SkyEye

Solar System Phenomena - Mercury

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The chart shows the path of Mercury across the background stars over the course of the year. Stars to magnitude +4.5 are shown with some fainter objects included to complete constellation patterns. The white circles represent the planet on the first day of the month (the thirteenth circle representing 1 January next year) and are scaled according to apparent magnitude. The faint path before the first circle and after the last circle represent the planet's positions in December of last year and January of next year. In general, the planet moves from right to left except when it's in retrograde and proceding in the opposite direction. As an inferior planet, Mercury never strays far from the Sun so it always begins and ends the year in or around the constellation of Sagittarius, located about one quarter of the way in from the left side of the chart.

The closest planet to the Sun is an elusive object to spot in the sky. It begins the year in the morning sky but is low to the horizon before sunrise and soon lost to view as it heads toward conjunction in February. The March apparition in the west is best seen from northern latitudes with the April apparition in the east favouring the southern hemisphere. Lost to view in June during superior conjunction, Mercury is again an evening sky object in July, this time favouring southern latitudes. Another conjunction in August brings the tiny planet back into the dawn sky for the best morning apparition this year for northern observers. Superior conjunction in late September is followed by good observing in the evening for those in southern latitudes. After the November conjunction, the northern hemisphere is again favoured for seeing Mercury in the morning sky before sunrise.

01 Januarygreatest elongation west 22.6° (magnitude -0.3)
08 JanuaryOphiuchusSagittarius
13 January0.6° south of Saturn
15 Januarydescending node
25 Januaryaphelion
31 JanuarySagittariusCapricornus
16 FebruaryCapricornusAquarius
17 Februarysuperior conjunction
02 MarchAquariusPisces
05 Marchascending node
09 March1.4° north of Venus
10 Marchperihelion
15 Marchgreatest elongation east 18.4° (magnitude -0.3)
22 Marchstationary - direct to retrograde
01 Aprilinferior conjunction
13 Aprildescending node
14 Aprilstationary - retrograde to direct
22 AprilPiscesCetus
23 Aprilaphelion
29 Aprilgreatest elongation west 26.9° (magnitude +0.5)
01 MayCetusPisces
12 May2.0° south of Uranus
13 May2.0° north of the Moon
15 MayPiscesCetus
16 MayCetusAries
26 MayAriesTaurus
01 Juneascending node
06 Junesuperior conjunction
perihelion
13 JuneTaurusGemini
15 Junemaximum declination north
27 JuneGeminiCancer
10 Julydescending node
12 Julygreatest elongation east 26.4° (magnitude +0.5)
14 JulyCancerLeo
2.0° south of the Moon
20 Julyaphelion
25 Julystationary - direct to retrograde
04 AugustLeoCancer
09 Augustinferior conjunction
18 Auguststationary - retrograde to direct
26 Augustgreatest elongation west 18.3° (magnitude 0.0)
28 Augustascending node
29 AugustCancerLeo
02 Septemberperihelion
05 September1.0° north of Regulus
18 SeptemberLeoVirgo
21 Septembersuperior conjunction
05 October2.0° north of Spica
06 Octoberdescending node
15 OctoberVirgoLibra
16 Octoberaphelion
31 OctoberLibraScorpius
06 Novembergreatest elongation east 23.3° (magnitude -0.2)
08 NovemberScorpiusOphiuchus
09 November1.8° north of Antares
12 Novembermaximum declination south
17 Novemberstationary - direct to retrograde
25 NovemberOphiuchusScorpius
24 Novemberascending node
27 Novemberinferior conjunction
29 NovemberScorpiusLibra
perihelion
05 December1.9° south of the Moon
06 Decemberstationary - retrograde to direct
15 DecemberLibraScorpius
greatest elongation west 21.2° (magnitude -0.4)
20 DecemberScorpiusOphiuchus
21 December0.9° north of Jupiter