Mercury

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Mercury

Postby nighthawk » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:06 am

Mercury is currently very favourable for observing.
Just below and to the right of Venus. Clear sky this evening so had a look and it is just on the edge of my 15 x 70s FoV. Quite pinky colour.
Not sure how long it will last in this favourable spot but grab it while you can.
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RE: Mercury

Postby cyclops » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:56 am

Its funny but altho I've heard that Mercury is easy to see I've managed to avoid it! Must one be up at sunrise to see it?
There's coffee in that nebula!
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RE: Mercury

Postby jeffbee » Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:00 am

Hi Cyclops - Mercury will be about 3 degrees to the right of Venus just [u]after sunset[/u] tonight. Magnitude -0.7.

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RE: Mercury

Postby sftonkin » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:16 pm


[quote]ORIGINAL: jeffbee
Mercury will be about 3 degrees to the right of Venus just [u]after sunset[/u] tonight.[/quote]

...and for about the next week-and-a-half. Eastern elongation is a week today (2010April08); it is brightest before greatest eastern elongation.
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RE: Mercury

Postby lancashire astroguy » Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:10 am

I'll have a look for Mercury this week. I must admit the number of times I've spotted her in the UK is probably less than 10 - its always such a miserable disappointment here. If you ever spot the little blighter from an airplane at 35,000 feet nearer the equator it is actually pretty bright.

Last time I looked at it with my telescope, I could just about make out the phase (through the blur) but nothing else. Has anyone actually ever taken a ground-based image of Mercury that shows surface markings?

James
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RE: Mercury

Postby brianb » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:23 pm

[quote]Has anyone actually ever taken a ground-based image of Mercury that shows surface markings?
[/quote]
You'd be amazed ... the best trick seems to be to use a scope of around 8-12" aperture, an infra red pass filter and to observe in full daylight (taking appropriate precautions to shield the scope from direct sunlight, for reasons of avoiding tube currents as well as protecting eyesight & cameras from damage).

See for example this thread: [url=http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/3504173/page/0/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/1/vc/1]http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/3504173/page/0/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/1/vc/1[/url]
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RE: Mercury

Postby lancashire astroguy » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:36 am

Wow ... thanks for that link Brian. Never thought there were ground based pics of Mercury that good. Particularly interesting is the third attachment in that thread, where that guy compares his picture to an artificially blurred Messenger picture and its a pretty good match!

Its always struck me as odd that until the 60's it was widely thought Mercury was in tidally locked rotation. There must have been some high-end amateurs who knew differently!

James
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RE: Mercury

Postby brianb » Sun Apr 04, 2010 1:26 am

[quote]Its always struck me as odd that until the 60's it was widely thought Mercury was in tidally locked rotation.[/quote]
Actually the rotation is tidally locked, it's just that the resonance is 3:2 rather than 1:1.

The error was because the same parts of the planet are always displayed at the best elongations ... just as they would be if the resonance was 1:1 ... this effect is exaggerated by the eccentricity of Mercury's orbit, which makes the Sun [i]almost[/i] stationary to an observer on Mercury when Mercury happens to be near perihelion, as it always is when at a "good" elongation when viewed from the northern hemisphere ... and the few observers with an interest in Mercury prior to around 1960 were all northern hemisphere based.

These amateur images of Mercury are probably far better than e.g. Antoniadi was ever able to get visually ... and certainly better than any images obtained before Mariner 10. Hubble cannot image Mercury because it is never far enough from the Sun to allow the instrument to operate safely.

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RE: Mercury

Postby les » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:33 am

HI There,
I try to see Mercury at least once at every elongation,I particularly like evening ones when the little world sets behind the Pentland Hills.[8D]Legend has it that Copernicus never saw the planet because of mists rising from the river Vistula that ran close to his home blotting it from veiw.
Regards Les.



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