Monday, May 12, 2008

The Innermost Planet

I've only ever seen Mercury once before, and it was a rather special occasion. That evening my fiancé and I watched the International Space Station skim overhead, and spotted all the planets out to Saturn in one sitting.

Mercury was hard to spot initially, but from our high vantage point we finally saw it come out of the murk over Bristol. Venus was easy, beaten only be Earth, and Mars was obvious with its redness in the evening sky. Jupiter and Saturn were obvious to the trained eye that noticed the intruding "stars" in their host constellation, but easily pointed out.

Last week our local astronomical society took the chance the weather gave to us to go out for a Mercury spotting session - possibly the only chance we'd get this year. This was the first image taken after sundown, and the scene was just beautiful. From the low lying orange clouds on the horizon to the deep blue sky overhead and the Moon with its Earth shine reminding us how bright we must seen to our watching companion.

In this image, Mercury can be seen nestling down towards the orange hazr in the bottom right, and the stars Alnath and Hassaleh can be seen just above the moon and to the right of the moon respectively.

This was the first of a number of targets that night ... so more to follow soon ....


Anonymous Lucy said...

Mercury is a very interesting planet because of its density. It may well be a mineralogical treasure house. Figuring out how to get at it is another matter.


6:52 am  

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