Home > Ephemeris Program, ESA, JAXA, Mercury > 10/22/2021 – Ephemeris 3,001st post – Mercury is now visible in the morning before sunrise

10/22/2021 – Ephemeris 3,001st post – Mercury is now visible in the morning before sunrise

October 22, 2021

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, October 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 6:46, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:09. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 7:53 this evening.

The planet Mercury is now visible on clear mornings, low in the east-southeastern sky after 7 am, and twilight gets too bright around 7:50 am. Tiny Mercury is the smallest planet, only 50% larger than our Moon. It looks a lot like our Moon, close up, all gray and covered in craters. But the resemblance is only skin deep. Before the Arecibo radio telescope could bounce radar pulses from the planet in the 1960s, we thought Mercury held one side pointed at the Sun and the other side eternally away. That wasn’t the case due to its elliptical orbit. It rotates in 59 days, two-thirds of its year of 88 days. This makes its solar day, noon to noon, last two of its years. The European BepiColombo mission to orbit Mercury just made its first pass of the planet.

Addendum

Mercury and its apparent orbit for 7:49 am tomorrow, October 23, 2021, two days before its greatest western elongation (separation from the Sun). Created using Stellarium.

BepiColombo at Mercury

BepiColombo takes a picture of Mercury on its first of 6 flybys, October 1st, before settling into orbit of the planet on December 5, 2025. BepiColombo is actually two spacecraft connected together, and parts of the other spacecraft will get into each other’s images until they separate. Credit: ESA/JAXA.

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