Orwell Astronomical Society (Ipswich)

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Mercury, 11 February 2007

Mercury is the most elusive of the classical planets due to the fact that it never ventures more than 27° 45' from the Sun. However, the planet presented a favourable apparition during early 2007 and was visible in the WSW shortly after sunset during the first two weeks of February. The planet was at greatest elongation east, furthest angular distance from the Sun, on 07 February. At this time, Venus was visible 6.5° further along the ecliptic, with Uranus visible in binoculars nearby. The following image shows the relative position of Mercury, Venus and the Sun at 18:00 UT on 07 February 2007.

20070207_sky_map.gif Sky map for 07 February 2007.

Several members of OASI were encouraged by the favourable apparition of Mercury to make observations of the planet together with Venus and Uranus as follows. All times below are UT.

Date Observer Observation
02 Feb 2007 James Appleton Mercury first seen at 17:00 with 10x50 binoculars, then seen by naked eye at 17:07. Formed a nice grouping with Venus somewhat higher and further east. Colour contrast obvious: Venus pure white, Mercury cream colour.
06 Feb 2007 Nigel Golfin Mercury observed about 17:30, naked eye just above WSW horizon about 1/3rd of the way along a line from v. bright Venus (above left) and estimated position of Sun lower right (set for approx 30 mins).
Nicky Gillard Mercury observed by naked eye from Nacton village at 17.20 - still visible at around 18:00.
Pete Richards Mercury observed by naked eye at 17.35 from Martlesham Heath.
07 Feb 2007 Christopher Gomm Mercury and Venus clearly seen unaided from Brantham at 17.45.
Raj Patel Spotted Mercury and Venus with naked eye, binoculars and 90 mm Meade from the top floor of my house on Tuddenham Road, on 06 Feb and again 07 Feb, 17.30 to 17.45-ish. Didn't see Uranus though.
Mike Harlow Yes it's still there! Spotted Mercury with binoculars at 17.10 and then by naked eye at 17.20. Colour contrast with Venus striking… pale orange of Mercury compared to dazzling white of Venus.
Mike Nicholls Observed both Mercury and Venus about 17.45 today with binoculars and naked eye. Also observed them with 200 mm reflector: Mercury appeared around 50% illuminated and Venus about 70% illuminated. Also observed Uranus, but rather faint in a slightly hazy twilight.
Paul Whiting, FRAS Observed from the viewpoint at Felixstowe around 17.50. Saw Mercury and Venus by naked eye and Uranus with binoculars (in same field as Venus).
Ted Sampson Saw Mercury and Venus, but not yet Uranus, about 18:00, by naked eye and binoculars. Observed from Offton (near Needham Market).
11 Feb 2007 James Appleton Observed Venus and Mercury by naked eye at 17:50. Venus easily visible, but only just managed to glimpse Mercury briefly between clouds near the horizon.

James Appleton