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ollypenrice

Mercury: how much interest is there?

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I'm reviewing a book on Mercury (by William Sheehan - it's good) and would be interested to know how much of a following the innermost planet has among SGL members, or perhaps their friends and clubmates who are not members.

I confess that I've observed the planet only once in my own telescope but that doesn't mean everyone else has been so lamentably incurious!

So what's the level of enthusiasm for Mercury out there? Any information would be much appreciated, rigorous or anecdotal.

Thanks,

Olly

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Never looked for it. Just a lump of rock! Regards Andrew 

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I've observed it through binoculars a few times, but it's too hard to image from my suburban area. It never really gets high enough. I may try a daytime shoot sometime.

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I've seen it a few times with my naked eye late in the evening, but never had the opportunity to look at it through a telescope. I would like to at some point though, it's just difficult given the limited timing and weather. I'm looking forward to the transit later this year on Nov. 11 since I have my solar telescope.

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I try to view it telescopically in the daytime form time to time, or spot it with the naked eye at sunset at a favourable evening elongation. Have seen it quite a few times now, and tried imaging it once or twice.

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Thanks for the replies. No passionate Mercurians so far!

Olly

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12 minutes ago, michael.h.f.wilkinson said:

I have invested quite some time imaging Mercury on one or two occasions

 

That's great.

Olly

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I would be interested but it is always below the line of the houses here. Never had a scope on it.

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Never been a particular fan of Mercury, just too awkwardly positioned most of the time, and not much reward when you do view it.

Main interest has been when it is in conjunction with other planets, or as Michael posted during transits. I've seen a couple of these and have really enjoyed them. I'm looking forward to November.

I do remember seeing a planetary alignment of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, plus a half moon too about 19 years ago, just viewed them in binoculars but that was very interesting and was in the early days of my astro interest.

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I've observed Mercury a couple of times with scopes including quite recently where it was showing when I did an outreach session at our observatory and I got my ED120 refractor onto it. We could see the phase and disk quite clearly. A few years back at the SGL star party I managed to get the planet in the eyepiece of my 12 dobsonian.

We had a talk recently at the astro society on the Messenger and BepiColumbo missions to Mercury which I found very interesting. Once you pick up some information and interest in something, even if it lacks much impact through the scope, the fascination grows when you do manage to view it :smiley:

It's a hard planet to get a space craft to, apparently.

 

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I've seen it a few times in scopes and binoculars. There's generally months in between opportunities to see it so it normally feels fresh when I do. I'd like to see all the planets in a single night so observing Mercury at each opportunity keeps me in practise. There was a chance to get them all in a night last year but I fell at the first hurdle by failing to find Mercury just after sunset. 

What I'm really excited for is the Mercury Solar transit in November. It was a big motivator for getting a white solar setup. Just got to keep my fingers crossed for some clear skies.

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32 minutes ago, Littleguy80 said:

...What I'm really excited for is the Mercury Solar transit in November. It was a big motivator for getting a white solar setup. Just got to keep my fingers crossed for some clear skies.

Its worth having the scope setup even if it is cloudy. During the last transit of Mercury (2016) we were pretty solidly clouded out here but I kept the scope ready and it did actually clear a little for a few minutes and I managed to get a very short view of the black spot of Mercury transitting the solar disk. Precious minutes those :smiley:

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24 minutes ago, John said:

Its worth having the scope setup even if it is cloudy. During the last transit of Mercury (2016) we were pretty solidly clouded out here but I kept the scope ready and it did actually clear a little for a few minutes and I managed to get a very short view of the black spot of Mercury transitting the solar disk. Precious minutes those :smiley:

Same for me with the Venus transit John, I caught about 6 minutes of it before 3rd contact. Well worth it though, amazing sight.

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Posted (edited)

I'm sure I have seen it (at elongation) via binoculars. But more by chance
than careful planning? It was notably PINK... as is sometimes claimed? 🤔

I spent quite a bit of time trying to be sure I was imaging the right place
with a MAK150 to records the transit first contact(s) last  time. But then
the clouds  rolled in... Yet... for a few seconds the cloud thinned and...

Half-In-Out.jpg.9098ba8bb36769374b6869fe26dd5a63.jpg

The REST of the day was notably clear for tracking on the sun's disk. 😜

Edited by Macavity
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Posted (edited)

I'm a Mercury Hunter.

Transit a few years ago:

1659281818_MercuryTransit1.thumb.jpg.56e53df91e1946281b441e8138569590.jpg1447457407_MercuryTransit2.thumb.jpg.4e855d7276e74dba66608b013a5a5fc9.jpg

Contact_1_and_2.gif.ee38b2115f1d28f407b66f3670627b59.gif

One evening I took a whole stack fo sunset pictures, but it only appeared in four consecutive frames - in the others haze or cloud must have obscured it, it's just right of the central, low, streetlamp:

<Oops, sorry! This photo shows Venus, top left! That isn't dust bunnies by eth way, it's hordes of biting things>

spacer.pngVenus.thumb.JPG.cb0362d53fd0479d654fba58ec122be0.JPG

This is one with Mercury in it, Mercury is obvious if you zoom in, right and down of the middle of three larger streetlamps:

1197874315_mercury(2).thumb.JPG.3bb69996fae38c75afae411644a1aa99.JPG

A crop...

2040713367_merccrop2.JPG.130e62538890ae8c95c12c34735c1938.JPG

Edited by Stub Mandrel
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I've observed it numerous times but very intermittently. From my site Mercury can't be seen in the west due to a hill and high tree line. Observing it during the day when its high takes some bottle and a driven mount. I do have a great eastern view but sometimes find it a struggle to motivate myself to observe it in the morning.

Attached was my last observation of Mercury, but it proves it can be a worthwhile target for the visual observer, even with a small scope.

IMG_0665.thumb.JPG.ec135ee909f1140c51d38fec66550c2e.JPG

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21 hours ago, andrew s said:

Never looked for it. Just a lump of rock! Regards Andrew 

It's a tricksy lump, though! It kept the secret of its rotation period till 1965, its orbit can only be described by relativistic equations and, apparently, irregularities in its orbit may intensify and provoke mayhem in the wider solar system.

15 hours ago, John said:

 

We had a talk recently at the astro society on the Messenger and BepiColumbo missions to Mercury which I found very interesting. Once you pick up some information and interest in something, even if it lacks much impact through the scope, the fascination grows when you do manage to view it :smiley:

 

Exactly, and his is really why I asked the question. Reading the book has made me far more curious about Mercury. I'll be interested to see if, like Schiaparelli, I'll be able to discern any markings during the daytime.

Great responses from everyone. Many thanks.

Olly

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Posted (edited)

Hi @ollypenrice, I know I know. I was being a little young in cheek.

I am of the view that almost anything can be fascinating if you study it in depth. I have read up many obscure topics. I might even read the book.

Regards Andrew 

PS But, in truth, it's just a large test particle for general relativity 🤔

Edited by andrew s
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Posted (edited)

Interesting that it is in 3:2 *resonance* (3 rotations per 2 orbits!) with
the Sun - That is (apparently) NOT the same as "Tidally Locked"! 😜 

You'd never avoid the "Fierce Glare of the Sun" (as they used to say!)?
Yet there is still (water) ICE in the Polar regions (See NASA et al.) 😎

Edited by Macavity

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42 minutes ago, Macavity said:

Interesting that it is in 3:2 *resonance* (3 rotations per 2 orbits!) with
the Sun - That is (apparently) NOT the same as "Tidally Locked"! 😜 

You'd never avoid the "Fierce Glare of the Sun" (as they used to say!)?
Yet there is still (water) ICE in the Polar regions (See NASA et al.) 😎

Yes, water ice at such proximity to the sun came as a bit of a shock but in the depths of polar craters (with a minimal polar tilt from the orbital plane), and in a near-vacuum, it starts to make sense. Anyone alarmed by the 'extremes' of a terrestrial continental climate should turn to Mercury for reassurance...

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I'm sorry to say that i think about Mercury so little that i sometimes forget it exists. 

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14 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

It's a tricksy lump, though! It kept the secret of its rotation period till 1965, its orbit can only be described by relativistic equations and, apparently, irregularities in its orbit may intensify and provoke mayhem in the wider solar system.

Exactly, and his is really why I asked the question. Reading the book has made me far more curious about Mercury. I'll be interested to see if, like Schiaparelli, I'll be able to discern any markings during the daytime.

Great responses from everyone. Many thanks.

Olly

Interesting insight, i might look into this book you mentioned. 

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On 13/05/2019 at 20:02, Stub Mandrel said:

I'm a Mercury Hunter.

Transit a few years ago:

1659281818_MercuryTransit1.thumb.jpg.56e53df91e1946281b441e8138569590.jpg1447457407_MercuryTransit2.thumb.jpg.4e855d7276e74dba66608b013a5a5fc9.jpg

Contact_1_and_2.gif.ee38b2115f1d28f407b66f3670627b59.gif

One evening I took a whole stack fo sunset pictures, but it only appeared in four consecutive frames - in the others haze or cloud must have obscured it, it's just right of the central, low, streetlamp:

<Oops, sorry! This photo shows Venus, top left! That isn't dust bunnies by eth way, it's hordes of biting things>

spacer.pngVenus.thumb.JPG.cb0362d53fd0479d654fba58ec122be0.JPG

This is one with Mercury in it, Mercury is obvious if you zoom in, right and down of the middle of three larger streetlamps:

1197874315_mercury(2).thumb.JPG.3bb69996fae38c75afae411644a1aa99.JPG

A crop...

2040713367_merccrop2.JPG.130e62538890ae8c95c12c34735c1938.JPG

That transit photo is jaw dropping. 

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Once I get the observatory set up properly I do intend to have a go at observing Mercury during the day.

James

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