Mercury Update - Details for 2019

Mercury has six elongations in 2019. The initial sighting for each of these is tabulated below:

Sequence

Initial Sighting Date (2019)

Observing Location

Greatest Elongation (2019)

#1

   

February 26, eastern (evening)

#2

   

April 11, western (morning)

#3

   

June 23, eastern (evening)

#4

   

August 9, western (morning)

#5

   

October 20, eastern (evening)

#6

    November 28, western (morning)

 

Elongation #1

The first sighting of the first elongation for 2019 is still awaiting Mercury's emergence from its January 29, 2019, superior conjunction, the first of the year. The text below is just boilerplate as a reminder for content needed.

 

6:20 am EST on December 4, 2018, from Swede Run in Moorestown, NJ, with 15x56 binoculars. Sunrise would be at 7:06 am. This is also the initial sighting of the 52nd elongation in a row (starting in January 2011). At the time, Mercury was 7 days past inferior conjunction on November 27 and 14.7 east of the sun and 5.2 apparent altitude. It was magnitude +1.05 and 19% illuminated, and through my 85 mm spotting scope at 60x, it looked horizontally elongated, although a for a couple of moments when thin clouds passed over, it looked like a banana (almost a crescent). Between 6:25 and 6:30 am, I glimpsed it with unaided eyes a couple of times. I followed it with the binoculars and spotting scope until 6:35 am. The azimuth position was initially confirmed by Zubeneschamali (Beta Librae), Mercury was 10 almost below it. Although somewhat star-like in the binoculars, I find that Mercury looks distinctively different (yellowish color and lack of "sparkle" compared to a star), so I know immediately when I see it.

 

 

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The current sighting streak is now 51 elongations in a row, starting in January 2011, which includes eight complete calendar years of six or seven elongations each. The years 2011, 2015 and 2018 each had seven (7) elongations, while 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 each had six (6). Click here for previous sightings. The purpose of this ongoing effort is not to set some sort of record, especially since I have no idea what sort of record might exist, but to demonstrate that locating and seeing Mercury is not nearly as difficult as many suppose. It just takes some planning and a little effort, although circumstances make some elongations easy and some difficult.

 

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Last Update: Sunday, January 27, 2019 at 02:22 PM Eastern Time