Mercury at Inferior Conjunction

Today Mercury is passing through inferior conjunction, passing between the Sun and the Earth. This fast moving planet will reappear above the dawn in about a week, rising towards maximum elongation on April 11th.

This is the most favorable dawn apparition of the year, actually the best dawn or evening, with the planet reaching over 27° away from the Sun.

Mercury Events for 2019
ApparitionDate ElongationMagnitude
Evening Feb 2718.1°E -0.2
Morning Apr 1127.7°W +0.6
Evening Jun 2325.2°E +0.7
Morning Aug 919.0°W +0.3
Evening Oct 2024.6°E +0.1
Morning Nov 2820.1°W -0.3
Data from the Mercury Chaser’s Calculator by John Walker

Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the setting Sun in the evening sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for inferior conjunction on March 14th

This is a modest apparition, with the planet only 18° from the Sun at maximum. The next evening apparition in June is much better, reaching over 25° from the Sun.

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Mercury at Superior Conjunction

Today Mercury is passing through superior conjunction, passing around the far side of the Sun as seen from our earthbound vantage point. This fast moving planet will reappear in the sunset in about a week, rising towards maximum elongation on February 26th.

This will be a modest apparition, with the planet only 18° from the Sun at maximum. The next evening apparition in June is much better, reaching over 25° from the Sun.

Mercury Events for 2019
ApparitionDate ElongationMagnitude
Evening Feb 2718.1°E -0.2
Morning Apr 1127.7°W +0.6
Evening Jun 2325.2°E +0.7
Morning Aug 919.0°W +0.3
Evening Oct 2024.6°E +0.1
Morning Nov 2820.1°W -0.3
Data from the Mercury Chaser’s Calculator by John Walker

Venus at Maximum Elongation

Crescent Venus
Venus approaching inferior conjunction, 24Dec2013

Today Venus is passing through maximum elongation, the highest elevation it will attain in the dawn sky for this apparition.

The planet is currently 47° ahead of the rising Sun. After today the brilliant planet will slide back into the glow of dawn headed for superior conjunction on August 13th, and an evening apparition starting in mid-September.

Saturn at Superior Conjunction

Today Saturn passes through superior conjunction, rounding the far side of the Sun as seen from our earthbound vantage point.

Saturn
Saturn on April 15th, 2016

Saturn will re-emerge in the dawn sky towards the end of the month. Look for the planet low in the glow of dawn, rising higher each day. It will swing by Venus on February 18th, passing about a degree away.

Saturn will pass through opposition on July 9th, crossing into the evening sky.

Mercury at Inferior Conjunction

Today Mercury will be at inferior conjunction. After today the planet will reappear in the dawn, rising high enough from the Sun’s glow to be seen around the end of the year.

Mercury Transit 9May2016
Mercury transiting the Sun on May 9, 2016. Celestron C8 and Canon 6D at f/10.
Inferior conjunction is when the planet passes between the Sun and the Earth. As such the only planets to see inferior conjunction are Mercury and Venus. A transit is possible if the planet passes directly in front of the Sun, but normally this alignment does not occur, the planet passing above or below the Sun as seen from the Earth. There are no transits of Mercury in 2017, the next will be Nov 11, 2019.

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Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Today Mercury will be at maximum eastern elongation, as high in the evening sky as it will appear for this current apparition. After today the planet will slide back into the sunset, passing through inferior conjunction on December 12th to reappear in the morning sky around the end of the year.

Mercury Transit 9May2016
Mercury transiting the Sun on May 9, 2016. Celestron C8 and Canon 6D at f/10.
Mercury typically completes three morning and three evening apparitions in each year. While the innermost planet never gets very far from the Sun, maximum elongation represents the best time to observe Mercury as high in the sky as possible.

There are no transits of Mercury in 2017, the next will be Nov 11, 2019.

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Uranus at Opposition

Today the planet Uranus will pass through opposition, directly opposite the Sun in our sky. The planet will be well placed for observation all night long, rising at sunset, transiting at midnight, and setting at sunrise. If you are looking to observe Uranus, it is currently shining at magnitude 5.7 in the center of the constellation Pisces.

Uranus
The planet Uranus as it appears in a mid-sized telescope
As the outer planets Uranus and Neptune move so slowly across the sky, the timing of oppositions is driven by the Earth’s orbit and occur each year at nearly the same time. The orbital period of Uranus is 84.1 years, taking the better part of a century to circle the celestial globe once.

Mercury at Superior Conjunction

Today Mercury will be at superior conjunction. After today the planet will reappear in the evening sky, rising high enough from the Sun’s glow to be seen around the end of the month.

Mercury Transit 9May2016
Mercury transiting the Sun on May 9, 2016. Celestron C8 and Canon 6D at f/10.
Superior conjunction is when the planet passes around the far side of the Sun as seen from Earth. For a few weeks the planet will be lost in the Sun’s glare, hidden from view.

As Mercury is on an orbit inside that of Earth’s it will see both inferior and superior conjunctions as it passes from the evening sky to the dawn sky and back again.

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Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Today Mercury will be at maximum western elongation, as high in the morning sky as it will appear for this current apparition. After today the planet will slide back into the dawn, passing through superior conjunction on October 8th to reappear in the evening sky around the end of the month.

Mercury Transit 9May2016
Mercury transiting the Sun on May 9, 2016. Celestron C8 and Canon 6D at f/10.
Mercury typically completes three morning and three evening apparitions in each year. While the innermost planet never gets very far from the Sun, maximum elongation represents the best time to observe Mercury as high in the sky as possible.

There are no transits of Mercury in 2017, the next will be Nov 11, 2019.

Continue reading “Mercury at Maximum Elongation”