Tonight, Mercury will reach its longest distance away from the sun, according to Nasa. In the Northern Hemisphere, Mercury will be on top of the horizon just after the sun goes down. Nearby celestial objects in the sky include the beautiful orange star Arcturus and the brighter star of the two Spica.
Southern Hemisphere dwellers might find Mercury easier to see, according to EarthSky, a science news website bringing daily updates on the cosmos. Mercury has a great apparition in August 2022, meaning visibility for a period of 2-weeks or more. Those in the Southern Hemisphere will have to rely on carefully searching with visual aids such as binoculars to catch sight of the planet.
How Do I Find Mercury In The Sky?
According to EarthSky, here is where and how to look:
Where to look: Look for Mercury in the west (where the sun sets) as soon as the sky darkens. For Northern Hemisphere observers: Try sweeping for Mercury with binoculars or a telescope. Carefully search the sky, and you might get lucky.
When to look: Mercury comes into the sky in late July until disappearing again by mid-September.
Greatest elongation: This happens at noon EDT on August 27, 2022. Mercury is farthest from the sunset for this apparition, 27 degrees from the sun in the evening sky.
Note: Mercury has its position tied to the sun in our sky, according to EarthSky. As a result, it never ventures very far above the horizon after sunset. So as soon as the sun disappears below your horizon, the viewing window is short. Mercury is much easier to see in the Southern Hemisphere in August 2022. Mercury reaches its farthest distance from the sun (greatest elongation) on August 27. Found right below the bright star Spica. The brilliant orange star Arcturus will shine brighter and higher in the sky than Mercury.
The Greatest Elongation of Mercury In August 2022:
- Mercury’s distance from the sun in the sky dome is 27 degrees.
- Mercury’s elevation in our Northern Hemisphere sky does not incline as the planet approaches the greatest elongation in late August; because of the ecliptic path of the sun, moon, and planets and the narrow angle on the evening horizon at this time of year.
- Mercury’s movement from the sun carries it southward instead of upward along the horizon.
- Mercury shines at magnitude 0.2.
- Through a telescope, Mercury appears about 53% illuminated, in a waxing gibbous phase, 7.2 arcseconds across.
For Information On Mercury And Sun Rising Times
Old Farmer’s Almanac (U.S. and Canada)
Stellarium (online planetarium program)
Mercury events in 2022 and 2023
August 27, 2022: Greatest elongation (evening)
September 23, 2022: Inferior conjunction (races between Earth and sun)
October 8, 2022: Greatest elongation (morning)
November 8, 2022: Superior conjunction (passes behind the sun as seen from Earth)
December 21, 2022: Greatest elongation (evening)
January 7, 2023: Inferior conjunction (races between Earth and sun)
January 30, 2023: Greatest elongation (morning)
March 17, 2023: Superior conjunction (passes behind the sun from Earth)
April 11, 2023: Greatest elongation (evening)
May 1, 2023: Inferior conjunction (races between Earth and sun)
May 29, 2023: Greatest elongation (morning)
July 1, 2023: Superior conjunction (passes behind the sun from Earth)
August 10, 2023: Greatest elongation (evening)
September 6, 2023: Inferior conjunction (races between Earth and sun)
September 22, 2023: Greatest elongation (morning)
October 20, 2023: Superior conjunction (passes behind the sun from Earth)
December 4, 2023: Greatest elongation (evening)
December 22, 2023: Inferior conjunction (races between Earth and sun)
Mercury Heliocentric View August 2022
Mercury’s position in the sky will be at its best tonight for the rest of the year, so take the opportunity, grab your binoculars, and start stargazing, and like Neil Degrasse Tyson famously says, “In life and the universe it’s always best to keep looking Up“.