Mercury, Jupiter and the Moon

November 08, 2003


Provided by: Jean-Marie Maillard
Summary authors & editors: Jean-Marie Maillard; Jim Foster

Late last month (September 24 and 25) an interesting gathering of the Moon, Jupiter and Mercury occurred. On the above photo, Jupiter is the bright dot to the lower right of the crescent Moon, and Mercury is the faint speck basking in the morning twilight, directly below the Moon but much closer to the horizon. Note that on this photo, the time exposure brightens the earthshine, making the Moon appear full.

Although Mars has been getting a lot of attention in recent months, and deservedly so, the elusive Mercury reached greatest eastern elongation late last month. This means that it was "turning the corner" in its orbit as seen from Earth. The swift Mercury reached a magnitude ­0.3. It was bright enough and high enough in the morning sky so that anyone with a low eastern skyline could easily spot it. An hour before sunrise, Mercury rested about 5 degrees above the horizon.

Technical data: Nikon F:2 camera, 105mm (f:2.5) telephoto lens, Kodak Gold film (200), 1 second exposure.

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