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CentaurZ

Mercury as Winter Evening Star

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Elusive Mercury has commenced its apparition in the western sky after sunset following its superior conjunction behind the Sun on 2020 JAN 10.

Photos and descriptions of Mercury during this apparition would be welcome additions to this thread.

 

Mercury-App.JPG.30ece1a39d89ca0de6c895c124895f7d.JPG

Edited by CentaurZ
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That's great news, thank you. I look forward to trying to see this tricky little fella.

If I can view Mercury, Mars and Neptune I will be very happy! Just little Pluto left, wish me luck with that one 😁

Edited by Barry-W-Fenner
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I am hoping to view Mercury but looking at the above it is not going  to get much higher than 10 degrees! This itself is going to make it difficult. I will give it a go though.

Above states "30mins after sun set" Is this as the sun goes below the Horizon and the sky is like dusk, Or totally dark?

Thank you

 

baz

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Looking forward to this elongation, quite favorable circumstances with the ecliptic at a good angle. 

Thinking back, I haven't looked at Mercury through a scope since I had my 60mm frac in the late 70's early 80's ! 

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3 hours ago, Barry-W-Fenner said:

I am hoping to view Mercury but looking at the above it is not going  to get much higher than 10 degrees! This itself is going to make it difficult. I will give it a go though.

Above states "30mins after sun set" Is this as the sun goes below the Horizon and the sky is like dusk, Or totally dark?

Thank you

 

baz

After the sun sets. As it gets darker it will be easier to see, hence 30 mins after sunset. You should be able to see it naked eye when it gets dark enough. 

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5 hours ago, Barry-W-Fenner said:

I am hoping to view Mercury but looking at the above it is not going  to get much higher than 10 degrees! This itself is going to make it difficult. I will give it a go though.

Above states "30mins after sun set" Is this as the sun goes below the Horizon and the sky is like dusk, Or totally dark?

Thank you

 

baz

Sunset is defined as the moment that the upper limb of the Sun contacts the horizon of a level plain as seen by eyes near the ground. The chart is for 30 minutes later when there is still twilight. It is specifically for a location near Chicago's O'Hare Airport. For your location in Britain during this particular apparition, Mercury will appear at similar altitudes as for Chicago. 

Unlike Venus, Mercury is at its brightest near Superior Conjunction when it is behind the Sun. Throughout an evening apparition, it continually dims. So here in the early portion of the apparition it is nearly its brightest. Today it is at Magnitude -1.0, which is a little less bright than Sirius, but significantly brighter than Arcturus or Vega. Since Mercury is normally observed during twilight, its brightness may not be fully apparent.

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Thanks for the information on this apparition of Mercury :smiley:

I have managed to get this little world in a scope eyepiece a few times over the years but it is never easy due to its low altitude. My best views have come by taking a portable scope upstairs and viewing though an open bedroom window because that gives me an unclutted SW / W view down the river estuary. The planet shows phases as Venus does but it's disk is much smaller.

Most often I've spotted it with binoculars just after the Sun has set. Its best not to be tempted to scan around for Mercury while the Sun is still above the horizon - the risk of getting the Sun in the view is high because the two are never that far apart.

 

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I think the window option will be best for me also, the sun sets directly at the rear of our place. We also have a large fence and some trees at the rear so an elevated position will be required.

I have a velux in the loft so I could even try to set up out of that. It will be tricky getting the Dob up there though.

Baz

 

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I can remember seeing it a few years back when it was quite close to Venus in the winter evening sky, it looked fabulous to the naked eye.

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On 31/01/2020 at 09:54, CentaurZ said:

Unlike Venus, Mercury is at its brightest near Superior Conjunction when it is behind the Sun. Throughout an evening apparition, it continually dims. So here in the early portion of the apparition it is nearly its brightest. Today it is at Magnitude -1.0, which is a little less bright than Sirius, but significantly brighter than Arcturus or Vega. Since Mercury is normally observed during twilight, its brightness may not be fully apparent.

Below is my chart for Mercury's stellar magnitude this year. Note how its brightness peaks near the times of Superior Conjunctions when it can't actually be observed. Its brightness at such times is due to it being at full phase, enhanced by an effect similar to the Oppositional Flash of a Full Moon and the superior planets. That flash is increased because of the lack of visible shadows. 😎

Mercury-Mag.JPG.5176cef74caafeab5414f422133ac2fd.JPG

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Yes, just seem Mercury. 20 minutes ago with the image stabilised Nikons. Just now, when its darker, visually. Though with the 25°C we had today ..... winter?

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I think I have just had my first view of mercury 30 mins after sunset. Very low as a bright star in the south west in the very illuminated portion of sky above the horizon. Venus was far higher and a bit south.

There were no other stars that even come close to that brightness that could show in that sundown, but I will check Stellarium to say for sure. If confirmed thank you CentaurZ.👍

Marv

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7 minutes ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

I think I have just had my first view of mercury 30 mins after sunset. Very low as a bright star in the south west in the very illuminated portion of sky above the horizon. Venus was far higher and a bit south.

There were no other stars that even come close to that brightness that could show in that sundown, but I will check Stellarium to say for sure. If confirmed thank you CentaurZ.👍

Marv

Nice one Marvin.! I hope it was Mercury, I look forward to hearing you verify.

I haven't managed to see it yet, the weather has been quite poor here. Started out really. Nice today then turned to thick grey cloud...

regards

Baz

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21 minutes ago, Barry-W-Fenner said:

Nice one Marvin.! I hope it was Mercury, I look forward to hearing you verify.

I haven't managed to see it yet, the weather has been quite poor here. Started out really. Nice today then turned to thick grey cloud...

regards

Baz

Yes! 100%. First Mercury and it was so bright nothing but the Mk1 eyeball needed. Just looked it up on Stellarium and there is no possibility of there being anything else present in that sundown.

Thanks to the dogs needing a walk up hill to higher ground it was surprisingly bright. No having to decide between competitors. I can’t understand how I have missed it in the past.... No idea about the night sky, mixed with not being a member of SGL and not having #Centaurz to point out where to look. You the man or woman or indeed Centaur.

Marvin the most greatfull.

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Congratulations Marv! Really pleased for you with this find. It makes me even more hopeful of seeing it now that I know you can spot it with the naked eye. It's so low though here. Just over 10 degrees. I will struggle to see it over my back fence. I will find a way though. 1st will be l to locate it from my daughters bedroom window, then when I know where it is I can plan spotting it through the scope.

Well done, and thanks again for the info Centaur.

 

Baz

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Just now, Barry-W-Fenner said:

Congratulations Marv! Really pleased for you with this find. It makes me even more hopeful of seeing it now that I know you can spot it with the naked eye. It's so low though here. Just over 10 degrees. I will struggle to see it over my back fence. I will find a way though. 1st will be l to locate it from my daughters bedroom window, then when I know where it is I can plan spotting it through the scope.

Well done, and thanks again for the info Centaur.

 

Baz

If it wasn’t for the walk up the lane to high ground (thank you Marvin jr and Lixy) it would have been behind trees.

Get to high ground and it will poke you in the eye as long as the weather permits of course.

Marv (snr)

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13 minutes ago, Barry-W-Fenner said:

Congratulations Marv! Really pleased for you with this find. It makes me even more hopeful of seeing it now that I know you can spot it with the naked eye. It's so low though here. Just over 10 degrees. I will struggle to see it over my back fence. I will find a way though. 1st will be l to locate it from my daughters bedroom window, then when I know where it is I can plan spotting it through the scope.

Well done, and thanks again for the info Centaur.

 

Baz

One to go Neptune! She may become my nemesis. I like most, do all the lists, but they are not my driving force in astronomy. I would set my lists to zero to start again and see Jupiter and Saturn for the first time.

I am currently at 82 of the venerable M Messier’s list. I now have seven of the eight planets (still annoyed about Pluto). My main goal this year is going to be Ceres to complete the gap and the final Messier objects as they are in the summer constellations. If I can get a look at Neptune then I will raise a glass.

The rest of my life, I will take my time and enjoy them at leasure, through an eye piece or a camera.

Marvin

 

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28 minutes ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

One to go Neptune! She may become my nemesis.

I reckon when you do bag it you'll never look back. I can't remember my first Neptune. I know it was a long time coming but I now consider it an easy object. I did the same with M33. Took me near 30 years then I got it with bins of all things. Now I trip over it in a dark sky!!

My all-time to-do-before-I-die object is Pluto. I don't know if it's even doable with the 10" under excellent conditions given its southern declination. I think my desire to spot Pluto visually is no more than a hangover from the days when it was a proper planet and was required for the full set. 

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Just caught a view of Mercury, in 10x50 binoculars and then naked eye. It's quite bright, managed to see it through some leafless trees as it was setting below the mountain.

andrew

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No joy for me tonight, I waited for the sun to drop below the horizon to try and get a view of Mercury but all I managed was thick cloud roll over. Maybe tomorrow.
Baz

 

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22 hours ago, Paul M said:

I reckon when you do bag it you'll never look back. I can't remember my first Neptune. I know it was a long time coming but I now consider it an easy object. I did the same with M33. Took me near 30 years then I got it with bins of all things. Now I trip over it in a dark sky!!

My all-time to-do-before-I-die object is Pluto. I don't know if it's even doable with the 10" under excellent conditions given its southern declination. I think my desire to spot Pluto visually is no more than a hangover from the days when it was a proper planet and was required for the full set. 

I know just what you mean, the night sky can be a funny thing. Within weeks of getting my first scope 130 newt on hideous eq2 I went big guns and decided Andromeda galaxy was on the cards, sorry didn’t know at the time it had a number!

Searched all over (probably in Orion for what I knew then) got to the right bit of sky and tripped over the pinwheel galaxy, didn’t have a number for that either.

Then the moon turned up and I was elated. Took another three months to find M31 (naked eye object, was I blind?) then couldn’t find the pinwheel again for another six months. Now I go ‘it’s over there’.

I know how you feel about Pluto. Personally I feel robbed, I grew up with that distant planet and then, no it’s not, I know it is not scientific but yes it is. A bit pantomime.

My other goal for the year is Ceres. That forgotten mini planet hardly anyone dares talk about, or seems happy to forget.

Good luck with Pluto hunting. If you get it be sure to let us know as one day I will be scaling up equipment and could do with some tips on finding Tombaugh’s planet.

Marvin

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2 hours ago, andrew63 said:

Just caught a view of Mercury, in 10x50 binoculars and then naked eye. It's quite bright, managed to see it through some leafless trees as it was setting below the mountain.

andrew

Excellent work. I went out again and could see it but some horse tails low on the horizon meant it was far less visual than yesterday. Was that your first view of the inner most planet?

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43 minutes ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

Good luck with Pluto hunting. If you get it be sure to let us know as one day I will be scaling up equipment and could do with some tips on finding Tombaugh’s planet.

After my previous post I refreshed my memory on visual observation of Pluto.

It's slowly getting worse as Pluto's highly eccentric orbit takes it further away it'll only get fainter. It was doable with an 8" scope at it's Perihelion  but even under good conditions and some practice, a 10" is just about the minimum now. Good luck picking out an unimpressive 14th magnitude star in Sagittarius too!

Here's Its movement over the next 10 years with magnitude in brackets!!

EDIT: I think the magnitudes are modified allowing for atmospheric extinction.

image.thumb.png.6e4a0b5e78ae55e924a74372dc19510c.png

Edited by Paul M
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