Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Mercury in February

  • Please log in to reply
48 replies to this topic

#1 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 17 January 2020 - 10:40 AM

Hi!

I'm preparing to get my first glimpse of Mercury in February, anyone else?



#2 RyanSem

RyanSem

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 833
  • Joined: 29 Jul 2018
  • Loc: Lancaster, PA

Posted 17 January 2020 - 10:53 AM

Looks like Feb 8-12 might be the best time to view based on what I'm finding in Stellarium. I try to spot Mercury at least once per year, so this would knock 2020 out of the bag pretty early on!



#3 ascii

ascii

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,145
  • Joined: 04 Jun 2016
  • Loc: Orlando, FL, USA Approximately 28.5ºN,81.5ºW

Posted 17 January 2020 - 02:58 PM

If I'm not mistaken, the best evening appearance of Mercury is the one closest to the March equinox.  The elongation that occurs on February 10th should be the one.



#4 sunnyday

sunnyday

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,389
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2019
  • Loc: Ottawa,Canada

Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:26 PM

yes i will do it from puerto vallarta, in front of me the pacific so the view will be excellent.



#5 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 87,799
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:36 PM

Mercury will be at a maximum eastern elongation of 18 degrees at 14:00 UT on February 10th.   It will at an altitude of 11 degrees 30 minutes after sunset from 40 degrees north and will shine at magnitude -0.6.  This will be the finest evening appearance of the year.

A maximum western elongation of 28 degrees occurs at 2:00 UT on April 24th.  Southern hemisphere observers are favored for this morning apparition.


  • Tyson M likes this

#6 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:38 PM

I have the local astronomical yearbook for 60N+. It's underlined how challenging the task to see Mercury can be. At this meridian Mercury can never be seen at a dark background, so even a little haze or thin clouds can prevent it. My yearbook has chosen 45 minutes after sunset as the "sweet spot": long enough after sunset, but not too long.

 

I have checked my views over water, should be unobstructed down to 2 degrees in west of southwest. As weather is what it is I will start trying say 1 February and continuing to 20 Feb, if needed. Jackpot would of course be favorable weather on 10 Feb, then Mercury is at about 7 degrees above the horizon at 45 minutes after sunset, and visible above 2 degrees for about 50 minutes. 


Edited by viewer, 17 January 2020 - 09:46 PM.


#7 NorthernlatAK

NorthernlatAK

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 807
  • Joined: 22 Sep 2018

Posted 18 January 2020 - 02:08 AM

I was able to see Mercury quite well at 60.5°N when I first got my telescope in March of 2018. It was my first light with my xt8i. Very difficult to see indeed at these high latitudes. March and early October are the only times that I have seen Mercury up here.
  • flt158 and Tyson M like this

#8 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 87,799
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 18 January 2020 - 02:21 AM

Mercury will be illuminated about 50% during its maximum elongations in February and March.

 

https://en.wikipedia...l_astronomy.svg



#9 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 87,799
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 18 January 2020 - 02:26 AM

There's an online calculator for maximum elongations of the planet at https://www.fourmila...elongation.html


  • Zorbathegeek likes this

#10 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 87,799
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 18 January 2020 - 02:55 AM

Here's the Starry Night view of Mercury on February 10th at 6:15 p.m. EST from 40 degrees north. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Mercury February 10 Eastern Elongation Starry Night.JPG


#11 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 18 January 2020 - 03:16 AM

I was able to see Mercury quite well at 60.5°N when I first got my telescope in March of 2018. It was my first light with my xt8i. Very difficult to see indeed at these high latitudes. March and early October are the only times that I have seen Mercury up here.

Yes, better be prepared I will not succeed this year, but will try. Will use binoculars. There will in principle be another chance in May, July-August and November, but neither very suitable for my observing.


Edited by viewer, 18 January 2020 - 03:51 AM.


#12 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 25 January 2020 - 04:23 AM

I have the local astronomical yearbook for 60N+. It's underlined how challenging the task to see Mercury can be. At this latitude Mercury can never be seen at a dark background, so even a little haze or thin clouds can prevent it. My yearbook has chosen 45 minutes after sunset as the "sweet spot": long enough after sunset, but not too long.

 

I have checked my views over water, should be unobstructed down to 2 degrees in west of southwest. As weather is what it is I will start trying say 1 February and continuing to 20 Feb, if needed. Jackpot would of course be favorable weather on 10 Feb, then Mercury is at about 7 degrees above the horizon at 45 minutes after sunset, and visible above 2 degrees for about 50 minutes. 

Fixed my post. Attention to "detail" is important in this business smirk.gif

 

Have found the part of the sky where Mercury could show, coinciding with a couple of church towers in the distance. Also learned the compass' magnetic declination is 9 degrees, more than I thought. Relevant, as the field of view of my binoculars is 6.5 degrees. Google maps show things better imo, with the church towers at approximately 55 degrees from South to the West when at my observing spot.


Edited by viewer, 25 January 2020 - 11:12 AM.


#13 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 03 February 2020 - 12:06 PM

I just saw Mercury! About 40 minutes after sunset I got the view in the binoculars, it really was there! Earlier on the sky was too bright. Had Stellarium on the smartphone as a guide, and also the compass, plus of course the church towers.

 

Took short walks and returned. About one hour after sunset I managed to see glimpses of Mercury unaided, when knowing exactly where to look. Followed it down to a couple of degrees above the horizon before it disappeared behind the trees in the distance. Interesting how it at times got a bright red color when very low, then returning to reddish.

 

Yes, it's a week until Mercury could be 'at its best'. But this extremely clear weather down to the absolute horizon is by no means anything you could count on getting again very soon. 

 

All in all, now I've seen all the eight (current) planets!


  • Dave Mitsky, Carl Kolchak, John Boudreau and 3 others like this

#14 Adam Long

Adam Long

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 42
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2019
  • Loc: Sheffield, UK

Posted 05 February 2020 - 09:14 AM

I managed to see Mercury last night too, about 45 mins after sunset. Very low but surprisingly bright - easily visible without binoculars.


  • flt158 likes this

#15 graffias79

graffias79

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 626
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2010
  • Loc: Madison, WI

Posted 05 February 2020 - 01:43 PM

I've also noticed hints of red when viewing Mercury.  Very curious.  I'm sure it has to do with the brightness + low altitude.



#16 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 05 February 2020 - 02:37 PM

Nice reports! Tomorrow I will yet again have perfect weather according to two out of my three forecasts and almost perfect according to the last. And some hope one week forward, then I guess it may be it for this year. Will absolutely take the few chances provided!



#17 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 06 February 2020 - 12:03 PM

Yes indeed, the weather reports didn't fail me. Could see Mercury unaided without problems, must be a combination of the more favorable elongation and the routine. With binoculars did see the same intermittent redness when it was very low, and confirmed there was a tendency for the red color to be on the left side, as it seemed to be last time. Could this be because of the current phase of Mercury? 


Edited by viewer, 06 February 2020 - 12:06 PM.

  • flt158 likes this

#18 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 87,799
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 06 February 2020 - 06:48 PM

With binoculars did see the same intermittent redness when it was very low, and confirmed there was a tendency for the red color to be on the left side, as it seemed to be last time

Selective scattering of light results in red wavelengths predominating near the horizon.

 

https://www.physicsc...and-Red-Sunsets
 

Prismatic atmospheric dispersion also creates false colors in bright celestial objects when seen near the horizon.

 

http://www.astropix....l_story/vd.html

 

https://cseligman.co...cdispersion.htm


  • viewer likes this

#19 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 87,799
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 06 February 2020 - 07:12 PM

I took this afocal shot of Mercury on 2/12/2013 using the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg's 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain and a 40mm University Optics MK-70 eyepiece.  Mercury was very close to the horizon at the time and was undergoing rapid color changes due to atmospheric prismatic dispersion.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Mercury Red February 2013.jpg

  • flt158 likes this

#20 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 87,799
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 06 February 2020 - 10:34 PM

Here are two photos that I took of Venus that display atmospheric prismatic dispersion, as well as differences in phase.  The first was done with the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg's 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain using eyepiece projection and a film camera.  I used a 6" f/8 Orion SkyQuest XT6 Dob and a Canon point-and-shoot digital camera afocally for the second.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Venus 17-inch Prismatic Dispersion Enlarged 320.jpg
  • Venus 6-inch Orion Dob Reprocessed Resized 420 CN.jpg


#21 Zorbathegeek

Zorbathegeek

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 70
  • Joined: 19 Jul 2019

Posted 07 February 2020 - 12:36 AM

Mercury reaches it's highest altitude around March 21st from where I am in the Southern Hemisphere. It will be about 47% illuminated and 7.82". My best view of Mercury was last October's apparition. I managed to observe it on the 29th when it was 38.7% illuminated. It was pretty sharp on 110x magnification but wouldn't take the Barlow lens. I'm hoping to find it at less than 30% illuminated in the first half of March.



#22 Rutilus

Rutilus

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,472
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2010

Posted 07 February 2020 - 05:03 AM

I had a wonderful view of Mercury, yesterday evening. Quite bright with the unaided eye.


  • flt158 likes this

#23 Paul Sweeney

Paul Sweeney

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 99
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2018
  • Loc: Heidelberg, Germany

Posted 07 February 2020 - 09:56 AM

Up here at 50°N Mercury is also tough, especially because we have so much cloudy and hazy weather. But I am a dedicated Mercury hunter. I especially like finding it when my yearbook says it is too low and not worth it. That is when it is really a challenge. I found it last night, maybe 40 minutes after sunset. Going out again tonight to try to get a picture. For those of you just starting out, a 50mm finder is a big help. Then scan like comet hunting. Worst case: about 15 minutes before it sets, scan the horizon. Unless there are clouds, you should see it, even through haze.
  • Dave Mitsky and JuergenB like this

#24 JuergenB

JuergenB

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 117
  • Joined: 15 Nov 2015
  • Loc: Lilienthal, Germany

Posted 07 February 2020 - 12:17 PM

Just returned from a short walk with my 8x42 binoculars. Looked quite a while for Mercury, then found it in the binoculars roughly 50 minutes after sunset. It was about 5 minutes before start of nautical dusk. After having seen it with the binoculars, it was easy for the unaided eyes as well.

 

I made a funny experiment after that. After I noticed Rigel, I looked at Beteigeuze, Bellatrix and the belt of Orion and asked myself, at what time after sunset I could see M 42 first. Surprisingly, it could already be glimpsed when the sun was only 6° below the horizon. I had not expected that before.

 

Juergen


Edited by JuergenB, 07 February 2020 - 12:27 PM.

  • flt158 likes this

#25 viewer

viewer

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 944
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Bortle 8, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 07 February 2020 - 02:27 PM

Just for fun, if I get one more chance I'll try to look at Mercury at 100x magnification with my 70mm refractor. Don't expect it to look significantly different but who knows... 




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics