Mercury Sightings - Details for 2022

Mercury has seven elongations in 2022. The initial sighting by Joe Stieber for each of these is tabulated below:

Sequence

Initial Sighting Date (2021/22)

Observing Location

Greatest Elongation (2022)

1

December 19, 5:13 pm EST, #70 Wharton State Forest (CzF), NJ

January 7, eastern (evening)

2

   

February 16, western (morning)

3

   

April 29, eastern (evening)

4

   

June 16, western (morning)

5

   

August 27, eastern (evening)

6

    October 8, western (morning)

7

   

December 21, eastern (evening)

 

Elongation #1

The first sighting of the first elongation for 2022 (the 70th elongation in a row overall) was on December 19, 2021 from Wharton State Forest (CzF), NJ, under a clear sky as a secondary object while sighting comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard). Brilliant Venus was used as the primary guide, while Saturn and bright Jupiter were in a row not far east of Venus. These four objects were observed on all the succeeding December sessions. Mercury was initially sighted at 4:51 pm EST in moderately bright twilight with 15x56 binoculars (sunset was at 4:36 pm). At the time, Mercury was at 3.9 altitude and magnitude -0.7, 5.0″ diameter, 94% illuminated. It was not seen with unaided eyes.

The second sighting of the first elongation for 2022 was on December 20, 2021 from the baseball field complex in Maple Shade, NJ, under a clear sky. It was spotted at 5:01 pm EST with 15x56 binoculars. At the time, it was barely above the tree tops at 3.0 altitude, magnitude -0.7, 5.1″ diameter 94% illuminated. It was not seen with unaided eyes.

The third sighting of the first elongation for 2022 was on December  23, 2021 from the baseball field complex in Maple Shade, NJ, through thin couds. It was spotted at 5:08 pm EST with 15x56 binoculars. At the time, it was just above the tree tops at 3.7 altitude, magnitude -0.7, 5.2″ diameter 91% illuminated. It was not seen with unaided eyes.

The fourth sighting of the first elongation for 2022 was on December 26, 2021 from the lighthouse parking area at East Point, NJ, under a mostly clear sky. There were some passing thin clouds and thicker clouds along the sea horizon (which turned a fiery orange color after sunset at 4:44 pm EST). Mercury was initially spotted at 5:00 pm, 7.0 altitude, 6 below Venus. At the time it was magnitude -0.7, 5.4″ diameter and 87% illuminated. It was glimpsed with unaided eyes at 5:24 pm at 3.4 altitude.

The fifth sighting of the first elongation for 2022 was on January 4, 2022 from the baseball field complex in Maple Shade, NJ, under a mostly clear sky with some scattered clouds along the horizon; sunset at 4:48 pm EST. The exquisitely thin crescent Venus, 0.8% illuminated four days before inferior conjunction, was spotted with 15x56 binoculars at 5:05 pm (4.3 altitude) then seen with unaided eyes. Mercury was spotted at 5:06 pm with 15x56 binoculars, 10.9 altitude. At the time it was magnitude -0.7, 6.4″ diameter and 68% illuminated. It was glimpsed with unaided eyes at 5:10 pm, unambiguously visible with unaided eyes at 5:17 pm and by 5:30 pm, was obvious with unaided eyes.

The sixth sighting of the first elongation for 2022 was on January 7, 2022 from the baseball field complex in Maple Shade, NJ, under a mostly clear sky; sunset was at 4:51 pm EST. Mercury was spotted with the 15x56 binoculars through the car's windshield at 5:18 pm (I was taking refuge from a strong wind) the subsequently seen with unaided eyes.

The seventh sighting of the first elongation for 2022 was on January 11, 2022 from the baseball field complex in Maple Shade, NJ, under a clear sky; sunset was at 4:55 pm EST.  Mercury was spotted with 15x56 binoculars at 5:31 pm then immediately afterwards with unaided eyes. At the time, Mercury was 8.7 altitude, magnitude -0.1, 7.8″ diameter and 39% illuminated. By 5:40 pm, it was easily visible with unaided eyes.

The eighth sighting of the first elongation for 2022 was on January 14, 2022 from the baseball field complex in Maple Shade, NJ, under a clear sky; sunset was at 4:58 pm EST.  Mercury was spotted with 8x42 binoculars at 5:31 pm. At the time, Mercury was magnitude +0.6, 7.4 altitude, 15.6 solar elongation, 8.5″ apparent diameter and 24% illuminated. Then at 5:32 pm, it was located with an 88 mm apo spotting scope at 25x, increased to 60x in an attempt to see the crescent. However, the low altitude, poor seeing, significant atmospheric chromatic dispersion and jiggling from a strong buffeting wind allowed only a somewhat horizontal elongation to be seen. Mercury was first seen with unaided eyes at 5:38 pm.

 

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The current streak is now 70 elongations in a row starting my twelfth calendar year of Mercury elongation sightings (beginning in January 2011). There are six or seven elongations per year. The years 2011, 2015 and 2018 each had seven (7) elongations, while 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021 each had six (6). That's 69 elongations in 11 years, or 6.3 elongations per year. 2022 will have seven (7) elongations. Click here for sightings in 2021. 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 a little planning and effort, although circumstances make some elongations easy and some difficult.

 

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Last Update: Friday, January 14, 2022 at 06:53 PM Eastern Time