Solar System Phenomena — Mercury in 2022

The path of Mercury against the background stars in 2022

The upper 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 and are scaled according to apparent magnitude. The faint paths before the first circle and after the last circle represent the planet's positions in December of last year and January of next. 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 near the constellation of Sagittarius, located about one quarter of the way in from the left side of the chart.

The lower charts show how the appearance of Mercury changes over the year. Below each image is listed the date, the apparent magnitude, the apparent diameter of the disk (in arc-seconds), the geocentric distance (in au), the elongation from the Sun (in degrees) and the percentage of the disk which is illuminated. Like the Moon, Mercury exhibits a complete range of phases, from new to crescent to gibbous to full and back again. Because its synodic period is around four months, Mercury completes this phase cycle three times each year. Note how Mercury's magnitude varies widely, ranging (approximately) from −2.0 to +6.0 between conjunctions.

Mercury appears in the east three times this year and in the west four. For observers in northern temperate latitudes, their best chance of glimpsing the elusive planet in the evening occurs in April and May whilst the best morning apparition takes place between September and November. For those living at equatorial latitudes and in the southern hemisphere, the first morning apparition of January–March is the best time to see Mercury in dawn skies. Between July and September is the optimal evening apparition for these observers.

02 JanuarySagittariusCapricornus
07 Januarygreatest elongation east: 19.2°
11 Januaryascending node
14 Januarystationary in right ascension: direct → retrograde
15 Januaryperihelion
23 Januaryinferior conjunction
25 JanuaryCapricornusSagittarius
02 FebruarySagittariusCapricornus
03 Februarystationary in right ascension: retrograde → direct
16 Februarygreatest elongation west: 26.3°
18 Februarydescending node
28 Februaryaphelion
02 Marchplanetary conjunction: 0.7° south of Saturn
08 MarchCapricornusAquarius
21 Marchplanetary conjunction: 1.2° south of Jupiter
23 Marchplanetary conjunction: 0.9° south of Neptune
25 MarchAquariusPisces
30 MarchPiscesCetus
01 AprilCetusPisces
2.5° north of the Moon
02 Aprilsuperior conjunction
09 Aprilascending node
10 AprilPiscesAries
13 Aprilperihelion
18 Aprilplanetary conjunction: 1.9° north of Uranus
25 AprilAriesTaurus
29 Aprilgreatest elongation east: 20.6°
1.3° south of the open star cluster M45 (known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters)
02 May1.8° north of the Moon
11 Maystationary in right ascension: direct → retrograde
17 Maydescending node
21 Mayinferior conjunction
27 Mayaphelion
03 Junestationary in right ascension: retrograde → direct
16 Junegreatest elongation west: 23.2°
05 JulyTaurusGemini
06 Julyascending node
10 Julymaximum declination north
16 Julysuperior conjunction
18 JulyGeminiCancer
28 JulyCancerLeo
04 August0.6° north of Regulus
13 Augustdescending node
21 AugustLeoVirgo
23 Augustaphelion
27 Augustgreatest elongation east: 27.3°
09 Septemberstationary in right ascension: direct → retrograde
23 Septemberinferior conjunction
26 Septemberplanetary conjunction: 3.2° south of Venus
01 Octoberstationary in right ascension: retrograde → direct
02 Octoberascending node
06 Octoberperihelion
08 Octobergreatest elongation west: 18.0°
24 Octoberlunar occultation: 0.4° south of the Moon
03 NovemberVirgoLibra
08 Novembersuperior conjunction: anti-transit
09 Novemberdescending node
17 NovemberLibraScorpius
19 Novemberaphelion
21 Novemberplanetary conjunction: 1.3° south of Venus
22 NovemberScorpiusOphiuchus
24 Novemberlunar occultation: 0.9° north of the Moon
04 DecemberOphiuchusSagittarius
08 Decembermaximum declination south
21 Decembergreatest elongation east: 20.1°
29 Decemberstationary in right ascension: direct → retrograde
ascending node
planetary conjunction: 1.4° north of Venus

Because the orbits of the planets are tilted slightly to the plane of the ecliptic, a planet normally passes to the north or the south of the Sun at conjunction. However, if the planet is near a node (the place in the orbit where the planet crosses the ecliptic) when it reaches conjunction, the planet may appear to cross in front of or behind the disk of the Sun. This situation occurs in November when Mercury actually passes behind the Sun from the vantage point of Earth. This type of conjunction is sometimes called an anti-transit or secondary eclipse.

The superior conjunction of Mercury in November 2022


The dates, times and circumstances of all planetary and lunar phenomena were calculated from the JPL DE406 solar system ephemeris using the same rigorous methods that are employed in the compilation of publications such as The Astronomical Almanac.