View Full Version : Right time to observe Mercury

2003-Dec-10, 11:22 PM
Mercury is a somewhat difficult object to find, but right now it is an easy target in the Southern skies.

It is quite bright, appears a short while after Venus in the twilight and is clearly visible to the naked eye.

In my 5 inch reflector at 90x it can be easily seen as a disc.

Now in a Universe Today poll a little while ago it became quite clear that` Mercury (and Venus) were unloved by all. This is not surprising as you don't really see much and about the only reason to observe Mercury is to say you have done it, I once read somewhere

However, if anyone does want to sight Mercury this as good a time as ever-at least for the next few days before it dissapears in the evening twilight....


2003-Dec-13, 06:22 AM
I wish I could see Mercury. It's been so cloudy for the past week! Even one night I could see Venus but there were clouds all below it. I'm going to keep my eye out for it though, before it disappears again! Though my horizon might be too high.

2003-Dec-14, 10:27 PM
Good luck guys - it's not so easy here in the dark and murky north :D

I've seen Mercury a few times, but never with a telescope. I've been into astronomy since I was 6, but it wasn't until I was 27 that I actually saw it. I was pretty pleased with myself!!

The only advice I can give is to wait for a crescent moon to appear nearby (or another bright planet) and follow the line of the ecliptic down towards the Sun, under the horizon. It should appear as a faint pinkish-white star close to your imaginary line. I'd also recommend using binoculars to help you find it :)

2003-Dec-15, 04:12 AM
I saw it thursday night from here (southeast Louisiana). Just after sunset and below Venus. It wasn't very bright, but clearly visible for about 30-45 minutes. I had to work friday and saturday evenings so I wasn't able to check it out then, I understand it won't be visible for long.

Dave Mitsky
2003-Dec-15, 08:45 AM
I drove to the top of a nearby hill on Friday evening to catch Mercury both naked-eye and through a 8x42 binocular at approximately 5:30 p.m. EST. Mercury was a bit more than one field of view to the southwest of Venus.


2003-Dec-15, 06:31 PM
Dave, you're in the northeastern U.S., right?

Dave Mitsky
2003-Dec-16, 08:47 AM
Originally posted by jimmy@Dec 15 2003, 06:31 PM
Dave, you're in the northeastern U.S., right?
You are correct, sir.

Dave Mitsky

Charles Bell
2003-Dec-16, 10:59 PM
Download the free astronomy program at:
and you can see where the planets and stars are for your location.

Mercury will be lower and lower each night until it disappears into the sunset and will later emerege into the sky before sunsrise.

You can watch it pass by the sun in real time on the SOHO site:

Click on the LASCO C3 image.

Perhaps if you watch, you may be able to discover a sungrazer comet while you are there.

That's a lot of fun when you can't go out and see the sky.

2003-Dec-20, 08:37 PM
One of the experiements we did when i was teaching in Victoria was to point a telescope at the sun and have it be projected on a screen (so no one looks at the sun directly ;) ), the students were oohing and ahhhing especially as after a while what we thought was a sunspot was actually moving over the course of the day (we always went back to check up on the information), so we went online to find out what that was...the students and my boss believe it was mercury!!!!

2003-Dec-23, 12:48 AM
Can you remember the date? Mercury did transit the Sun this year - it's a pretty rare event :)

2003-Dec-23, 03:14 AM
Sorry, I cannot remember it off the top of my head.....i will check it for you when i get back to work as i kept it in my journal.

2003-Dec-23, 03:33 AM
It occurs to me that you would do well to reconstruct the solar projection technique you used--- it is going to be very handy in June 2004 when the Venus transit will take place:rolleyes:

2003-Dec-23, 03:35 AM
will do, i will get my notes late january!

2003-Dec-23, 11:22 PM
:rolleyes: I have the 1999 transit of Mercury on video. We set up a 10 inch Meade reflector with a solar screen, and connected it to a VCR using a videoflex eyepiece. It is very cool video to watch. We had about 15 people at the " event." I hope to get some video of the Venus transit in June.
I enjoy seeing the phases of Venus in the telescope. It sure is a lot more fun being outdoors with a telescope here in Sunny FL !

2003-Dec-24, 02:05 AM
hey frank, do you have a link that shows the transit?

2003-Dec-24, 02:23 AM
Don't u guyz remember the one on May 4th or 5th?

2003-Dec-24, 02:27 AM
I am a teachr and remember little...like i said i will have to see my notes - all locked up safely at work