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Mercury in February

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#26 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 02:50 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... 

At the moment, Mercury is less than 7 arc seconds in size so it's pretty small but it's also rather bright.



#27 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 05:23 PM

I was out again tonight. Found Mercury about 30 minutes after sunset, 10 minutes later it was easily seen. The seeing was terrible, and I couldn't get a clear image at all. I tried various filters to no avail. Watched it until it sank into the clouds on the horizon. It was extremely red as it went down.
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#28 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 06:21 PM

Here's a screen capture from Stellarium at latitude 40 degrees north with the time set at 6:15 p.m. EST.

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  • Mercury February 7th.JPG


#29 SillySMS

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 03:50 AM

Given the difficulty some people are having in identifying Mercury... I'm wondering about the relatively easy time I had in (well, possibly) identifying Mercury last night.

 

Hypothesis #1: I mistook Mercury for some other orange-ish dot low in the sky at about the right angle from Venus.

Hypothesis #2: Living in a big city with enormous light pollution problems paradoxically helped me by making Mercury one of precisely two objects I could see from my apartment balcony. Not hard to pick out Mercury from the background stars when there are no background stars.

 

I wasn't able to make out Mercury as anything more than a dot, unfortunately, even at 80x magnification. Somehow I suspect "middle of a major city shortly after dusk" does not lend itself to superb seeing conditions.



#30 viewer

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 10:21 AM

This may partly nail why it's a challenge up north. In all the Stellarium screen captures Mercury is seven degrees above the horizon, 10 February:

 

60N (Finland)

AEiE0z.png

 

50N (Germany)

m3Y1ej.jpg

 

40N (Pennsylvania)H02jtw.png

 

30N (Texas)

mU2se8.png

 

But we all get our chances! Needn't be said Mercury is brighter in Stellarium than in the field...


Edited by viewer, 08 February 2020 - 01:17 PM.

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#31 ascii

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 01:11 PM

From S&T "This Week’s Sky at a Glance, February 7 – 15"

https://www.skyandte...-february-7-15/

 

 

Mercury is having an excellent apparition low in the evening twilight. Look for it about 40 to 60 minutes after sundown, far to the lower right of brilliant Venus (by about 25°). Mercury fades a lot this week, from magnitude –1 to 0, but that's still quite bright.

I'm supposed to have clear skies tonight.  I will go out for a brief naked eye observation, despite having a nasty cold.



#32 N3p

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 04:28 PM

I am going out for mercury soon, I hope at least to get a defined disk and some color. At 20 degrees from the ground.. my hopes are not very high but we will see.



#33 ascii

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 07:02 PM

Mercury and Venus from my front yard on 2020-02-08 at 18:45 EST taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 compact camera.

Mercury was fairly conspicuous, more so than the photo depicts.

 

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  • P1000504.jpeg

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#34 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 07:58 PM

I just had a great naked eye view of Mercury about 20 minutes ago (36N).  It was the best I have seen it in quite some time.  I have good horizons in my back field, if I move around some.


Edited by John Fitzgerald, 08 February 2020 - 07:59 PM.

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#35 N3p

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 09:26 PM

I too was able to see Mercury, the phase was not 100% clear with the telescope but easily visible with a 9mm eyepiece, 111x or 6mm 166x, planet was fairly beige although I suspect that color was caused by the thick atmosphere I was looking through.

 

A little success for my second observation on that planet.

 

WAeC1DP.jpg?1


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#36 BEEFREETWO

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Posted 09 February 2020 - 09:22 AM

i use to observe mercury in broad daylight right overhead or so,an markings could be seen in at least and 8" reflector or better and i use a Celestron SCT.

 

in fact you can start seeing mercury this way when its a least 10 deg 15 much better either side of the Sun. But care Must be taken and only use an Equatorial Mount so you can lock in the axes so as to know you wont accidently hurt your eyes.Of course you MUST be polar aligned to find this tiny planet. i actually work backwards in the daytime to polar align. i use the Sun with a solar filter an then i offset to Venus which is easily seen in an 8x50 finder especially  now which is far from the sun.i then go back to the sun and triangulate to mercury.mercury cannot be seen in the finder 90% of the time but using the main scope very slow sweeping it will pop into view.then pump the power to at lease 250 x -300x an you will be rewarded and of course a clock drive helps a ton.i use Pentax eyepieces to get in close and sharp but i used a televue 40 mm to sweep in the beginning. ive also use this method to observe venus  5 degrees from the sun near conjucntion,as big as a silver dollar in its Crescent Phase.but again care must be taken and you need full solar filters over finder and main scope. its not that hard at all when you get use to it. observing the planets overhead in the daytime is better than at night.better contrast.i even view Jupiter in daylite but Jupiter must be on the opposite side of the sun in the sky. ususally when the sun is about 1hr from setting. its Spactacular and NO Glare!   any thoughts or questions feel free to ask. as Tycho Brahe  once said-  I LOVE the Stars to dearly to Fear the NIght!!


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#37 BEEFREETWO

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Posted 09 February 2020 - 10:54 AM

So today Feb 9,2020   Mercury is 18 degrees to the left or east of the sun -if you stretched out your left hand and put your thumb on the sun overhead( it will be low in the sky) for most in the north  northeast US and put  out your pinky Mercury would be closs to your pinky or just short .Thumb to pinky stretched out is 25 deg! also Mercury is a bit lower in the sky then the sun. The suns declination today is - 8 deg and Mercury is -14 deg. so if you sweep that area with a wide eyepiece focused you could spot a faint ball of light. remember to get your eyepiece already focused on a sunspot  or a star or planet the night before.a fist held out in the sky is 10 degrees. Thumb to pinky is 25 deg! stretched side to side holding up to sky.hope this helps.


Edited by BEEFREETWO, 09 February 2020 - 11:01 AM.


#38 N3p

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Posted 09 February 2020 - 06:09 PM

i use to observe mercury in broad daylight right overhead or so,an markings could be seen in at least and 8" reflector or better and i use a Celestron SCT.

 

in fact you can start seeing mercury this way when its a least 10 deg 15 much better either side of the Sun. But care Must be taken and only use an Equatorial Mount so you can lock in the axes so as to know you wont accidently hurt your eyes.Of course you MUST be polar aligned to find this tiny planet. i actually work backwards in the daytime to polar align. i use the Sun with a solar filter an then i offset to Venus which is easily seen in an 8x50 finder especially  now which is far from the sun.i then go back to the sun and triangulate to mercury.mercury cannot be seen in the finder 90% of the time but using the main scope very slow sweeping it will pop into view.then pump the power to at lease 250 x -300x an you will be rewarded and of course a clock drive helps a ton.i use Pentax eyepieces to get in close and sharp but i used a televue 40 mm to sweep in the beginning. ive also use this method to observe venus  5 degrees from the sun near conjucntion,as big as a silver dollar in its Crescent Phase.but again care must be taken and you need full solar filters over finder and main scope. its not that hard at all when you get use to it. observing the planets overhead in the daytime is better than at night.better contrast.i even view Jupiter in daylite but Jupiter must be on the opposite side of the sun in the sky. ususally when the sun is about 1hr from setting. its Spactacular and NO Glare!   any thoughts or questions feel free to ask. as Tycho Brahe  once said-  I LOVE the Stars to dearly to Fear the NIght!!

Thanks for the suggestion, observing Mercury during the day.. I use an equatorial mount with tracking so this project is certainly for me, challenging.



#39 Slartibartfast

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 12:05 PM

I noticed that the clouds were clearing as we approached sunset on Saturday evening 2/8, so I decided to setup my 127mm f/5 reflector and the 25x100 binoculars in a large nearby field with a beautiful view to the west.  As the sky darkened, Venus was obvious so we looked at Venus for a while and waited for Mercury to appear.  There were clouds low on the horizon and I feared they would obscure the view, but ever so slowly as the twilight deepened, Mercury appeared low on the horizon, right were it should be.  To me, in the 127mm reflector, Mercury appeared brownish/reddish in color, but it was too tiny, and my scope was not cooled enough to get a clear view.  Later, we looked at the nearly full Moon as it rose in the east.  All in all, it was a very good evening.

 

I like the evening apparitions of Mercury because I'm not a morning person.  It looks like there will be another good showing on and around 6/4/2020 with Mercury following the sunset by about 24 degrees (as compared to 18 degrees for this apparition), but a little dimmer (mag +0.7) compared to this current apparition (-0.3).


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#40 viewer

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 01:59 PM

Good you pointed this out, I'm also an evening observer and moreover I don't have a clear view to the east. Thought this in practice was all over for me this year. But it remains to be seen if I can spot Mercury in the northwest in the end of May from my observing spot, could check that out already, maybe a clear view down to five degrees above the horizon would do. If I want to go out at about 11pm...having the bright summer night sky, and concentrating on solar at that point.


Edited by viewer, 10 February 2020 - 02:07 PM.

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#41 ascii

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 07:20 PM

Decided to take a small scope out to do a quick observation of Mercury at about 18:45 EST.  I used my AT60ED at 90x and 120x.  The view of Mercury was quite small.  I could definitely discern a roughly half phase.  According to SkySafari, it is a thick crescent, slightly past half illuminated.  At the scale of my observation, it matched well enough. smile.gif


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#42 djp183

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Posted 14 February 2020 - 07:08 PM

Caught it tonight just over the neighbor’s chimney with the iPhone!

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#43 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 14 February 2020 - 08:30 PM

I observed Venus and then Mercury early yesterday evening using my 12x50s.  I also showed Mercury to my wife.  At the time, Mercury was low in the west-southwest at an altitude of about 10 degrees.

 

A bit later I set up my 80mm f/5 Orion ShortTube 80 refractor and viewed the speediest planet using an 8-24mm Tele Vue Click Stop zoom eyepiece (17 to 50x).  I was so busy with doing that that I didn't think to try taking a few shots with my Canon PowerShot SX720 HS camera.  By the time I did, Mercury was into the treeline. 



#44 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 14 February 2020 - 10:01 PM

Here's the best of the shots of Mercury that I took in the Night Scene mode.

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  • Mercury February 14 MG_7268 Resized CN.jpg

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#45 BEEFREETWO

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 10:46 AM

http://www.astropixe...m/ephemeris/sun

 

 

http://www.astropixe...ercury2020.html

 

http://www.astropixe.../venus2020.html

 

 

table of Sun coordinates ,also you can find mercury and venus.


Edited by BEEFREETWO, 16 February 2020 - 10:50 AM.


#46 BEEFREETWO

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 10:53 AM

so using the above info,try finding these planets in daylite a good 8x50mm finder helps bigtime.

 

you can use the SUN in the daytime to polar align accurately using the above co ordinates/ good hunting.BUT always be careful 



#47 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 10:31 PM

Two fellow ASH members and I tried to log Mercury from the Naylor Observatory on Monday night.  It had been clear all day but clouds started to appear in the west at sunset.  Venus was readily apparent.  We scanned the western sky with our binoculars for a good twenty minutes but it was just too cloudy near the horizon to see the speediest planet.



#48 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 02:14 PM

I did get some good shots of Venus with my Canon PowerShot SX720 HS camera, however.

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  • Naylor Venus February 17 IMG_7408 CN.jpg
  • Naylor Venus February 17 IMG_7418 CN.jpg
  • Naylor Venus February 17 IMG_7440 CN.jpg


#49 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 02:19 PM

Here's a hand-held afocal photo of Venus that I took through the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain and a 38mm Agena SWA eyepiece (170x) while the planet was still relatively high in the sky.  Unfortunately, before too much longer the sky became almost completely overcast.

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  • Venus 17-inch Canon PowerShot SX720 HS February 17 IMG_7425 Rotated  CN.jpg
  • Venus February 17.JPG

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