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Centaur
2011-Dec-07, 04:20 AM
The elusive little planet Mercury has begun its apparition as a morning star following its inferior conjunction between Earth and Sun on 2011 DEC 04. This apparition will conclude with the planet’s superior conjunction behind the Sun on 2012 FEB 07.

My detailed article previewing Mercury’s early winter morning apparition appears under the links for my related graphics at www.CurtRenz.com/mercury

Photos and descriptions of Mercury during its current morning apparition would be welcome additions to this thread.

thoth II
2011-Dec-13, 07:52 PM
Curt,

thanks, I'll look for it, look's like it'll be easy to see.

The apparitions of springs of 2010 and 2011 , Mercury wasn't living up to its elusive title at all, those springs, anybody would have seen it, like my own diagram was easy to make:

http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/faculty/sundquij/mercury-jupiter-alignment-2011.png

mapguy
2011-Dec-15, 05:16 PM
Elusive is right... I've only seen the little bugger once in my life. I tried this morning - thought it would be an ideal time, as I happened to be on the 8th floor of a building with an unobstructed view to the east. There were a few small clouds, but they were very close to the horizon, and I figured Mercury should be above them, but I didn't see anything. What's its approx. magnitude? This was about 6:30 am, at least a half-hour before sunrise - I'm in Denver (about 39.7 N, 104.9 W)... any tips? Thanks...

Centaur
2011-Dec-15, 10:53 PM
Elusive is right... I've only seen the little bugger once in my life. I tried this morning - thought it would be an ideal time, as I happened to be on the 8th floor of a building with an unobstructed view to the east. There were a few small clouds, but they were very close to the horizon, and I figured Mercury should be above them, but I didn't see anything. What's its approx. magnitude? This was about 6:30 am, at least a half-hour before sunrise - I'm in Denver (about 39.7 N, 104.9 W)... any tips? Thanks...

Welcome to the discussion group, mapguy.

Your latitude is not much different from Chicago, so my northern hemisphere chart for Mercury should be just fine for you. The link is in the OP. As noted on my chart, tomorrow morning Mercury’s magnitude will be +0.0 which about matches the brightest fixed stars (Arcturus & Vega) visible from our latitude other than Sirius. It will continue to brighten each day during this apparition. Mercury is currently a full magnitude brighter than Antares, the first magnitude star in Scorpius, and tomorrow morning will appear about 9 above it. Saturn and Spica will be about 40 to the upper right of Mercury. Similarly brilliant Mercury, Arcturus and Vega will be the brightest objects in the predawn sky. Let me know if that helps.

Centaur
2011-Dec-15, 11:22 PM
This may help even more, mapguy. I've created a chart of the southeastern sky for tomorrow morning at 06:30 MST from your location in Denver.

http://www.CurtRenz.com/MercuryDenver.JPG

mapguy
2011-Dec-16, 02:28 PM
Thanks, Curt. Tried again this morning at about 6:00 am, and saw it immediately. It was brighter than I expected (I didn't see your followup post until just now), which made me wonder how I could've missed it yesterday. But I looked again around 6:40, and by then the sky was brightening enough that Mercury was quite difficult to locate, which probably explains my lack of success yesterday.

What software do you use to generate your sky charts? Thanks...

Centaur
2011-Dec-16, 09:23 PM
What software do you use to generate your sky charts? Thanks...

Youre welcome, mapguy. Glad you were successful. I create the software myself through the use of the PowerBASIC programming language and its associated Graphics Tools. I was a beta tester for the latter, which resulted in their acceptance of my suggestion for a subroutine that allows the easy drawing of rotated ellipses for images such as tilted crescent Moons.

Im not a professional programmer or astronomer, but I first learned programming in a FORTRAN college course in 1966. At that time input and output was done through punch cards. Even then I attempted to write programs for predicting planetary positions as an adjunct to my astronomy hobby. The clerk accepting the input cards questioned why someone in an initial programming course would be submitting such a large stack of cards. Over time this evolved into the astronomical preview graphics you see me producing today. I appreciate having greater control over my software than I would with the commercial variety. Of course I also get a kick out of creating something that others might appreciate: www.CurtRenz.com/astronomical