Catch Mercury at Its Greatest Eastern Elongation

The temps might be dipping, but things are still looking up outside. Watch the night sky as Mercury makes its appearance at the greatest eastern elongation.

Why see Mercury at greatest eastern elongation?

It’s not every day that Mercury, the smallest, and innermost planet in our solar system, is visible to the naked-eye from Earth. Mercury’s orbit closely hugs the sun, which causes the planet to get lost in the light. This month it will reach its greatest elongation. At this time, Mercury will be at its maximum eastern distance from the sun, appearing at its highest possible point in the sky and staying visible for an extended amount of time.

When is Mercury at greatest eastern elongation?

The best chance you’ll have at spotting Mercury, which is the second densest and hottest planet in the solar system, is Sunday, Dec. 11. Following the sunset at approximately 4:21pm, the planet will be visible for roughly 80 minutes before its expected setting at 5:45pm. If you miss it on the 11th, astrologists say it may still be visible over the next several days.

How can I spot Mercury at greatest eastern elongation?

Spotting the planet may be somewhat difficult, as from Long Island and New York City it will only appear about eight degrees above the horizon. Astrologists say this is due to Mercury’s relative position in relation to the sun and the earth as well as its magnitude, which is determined by the sun’s light intensity and the planet’s elliptical orbit. To try to get a glimpse at the planet, scan the south-western horizon immediately following sunset.

Where does appear Mercury at greatest eastern elongation?

Mercury’s elliptical orbit around the sun makes the planet visible from Earth during various points in its 88-day revolution. Due to the planet’s placement in the solar system, it is only observable for a few days when it reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun. In these instances, depending on Mercury’s easterly or westerly location, the plant becomes viewable either before sunrise of after sunset.