Where can you see Mercury from Earth?

Where can you see Mercury from Earth?

Mercury, the innermost planet, circles the sun within Earth's orbit and is frequently obscured by the sun's glare. However, during opportune times—such as now for the Northern Hemisphere—you may view Mercury rather readily if you step outdoors after sunset and gaze west. It will be just above the horizon in late afternoon and early evening, rising as the night falls and becoming visible again just before dawn.

It's a great idea to get out into your backyard or local park tonight and look up at the sky - Mars, Jupiter, Saturn all move across the face of the night sky and are easy to find with the naked eye.

Even better, use this time to record what you see with your camera. The Milky Way is one of the most beautiful sights you can capture on film and it's easy to miss when looking down at the ground!

The next time you look up at the sky tomorrow morning, think about how far we've come since Galileo first looked through his telescope at Jupiter and Venus hundreds of years ago. Today we know many planets exist beyond our own, and with a little patience and imagination we can see almost every star in the sky.

Is Mercury currently visible at sunrise or sunset or both?

Mercury is our solar system's nearest planet to the Sun. It is only seen in the early morning, soon after dawn, or after sunset since it is so near to the sun. In fact, ancient Greek astronomers once thought Mercury was two distinct objects. They called the bright object "Phoebus" after its Roman name.

Modern scientists know that this isn't true because they can see changes on Mercury's surface from orbit. The far side of Mercury never faces Earth. It always turns away from us out into space. But some parts are easily visible from certain locations on Earth during certain times of year. For example, the center of the map below is mostly dark land but there is a small region where ice and water mix that reflects some sunlight back toward Earth. This area is known as Syrtis Major and it forms a large part of what we see in the early morning or late evening when Mercury is high in the sky.

Here on Earth, people usually see Mercury when it is close to the horizon. It is then above the clouds that sometimes block out all of the stars but not Mercury. As Mercury gets closer to the Sun, it becomes brighter and can be seen with the naked eye. At its closest approach (about 46 million miles), it takes about four days for Mercury to go around the Sun.

Is there any evidence that Mercury is a planet?

If you monitor it between July 20th and August 9th, you'll notice Mercury wandering, offering strong evidence that it is, in fact, a planet. Infrared images (center, 2007) can be rebuilt, or the Messenger mission can fly to Mercury and photograph it directly (right).

Why do we know this? Because astronomers have been able to see evidence of Mercury's effects on its environment: volcanoes, craters, and even ice deposits on the surface. They know it is very far from the Sun because it takes 39 days for Mercury to orbit it. It is also much smaller than Earth with a radius about 471 miles. These facts combined with knowledge of its mass enable scientists to classify it as a planet.

Did you know that there is actually a city on Mercury? It is called Marius Hills and it was first seen by the LDC (Lander Descent Camera) on MESSENGER. The camera took pictures during the descent of the craft toward the surface of the planet in 2011. These are the first images ever made from beyond the atmosphere of Earth!

Marius Hills is one of several areas known as terras marianas after the god Mercury in Roman mythology. They are highlands formed when lava flows near a planetary surface deposit large amounts of silicon dioxide (silica) into the soil.

Why is the planet Mercury blue?

Mercury, the nearest planet to our sun, is unusually black. Scientists may now understand why. Mercury's low-reflectance material, which looks blue in this picture, and its link with impact-excavated material are highlighted in this improved color image. The photo was taken by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which arrived at Mercury in 2011.

Mercury has a thin veneer of dirt and debris that covers most of the planet. But there are some areas where this veil is removed, revealing bright surfaces that sometimes show up as red or white in these images. The photo you see here was taken near Mercurys north pole and shows many dark regions spread out over relatively light soil. These differences in brightness are due to variations in the amount of rock exposed at different places on the surface. The image was captured by MESSENGERs Advanced Camera for Imaging Science (ACIS) during a global survey of the entire planet's surface conducted from August to November 2012.

In addition to being mostly black, another reason Mercury is dark is because it has no atmosphere like Earth's.

What is the surface of Mercury like?

Mercury, along with Venus, Earth, and Mars, is a rocky planet. It, like our Moon, has a solid surface covered with craters. It has no moons and has a scant atmosphere. Because it is the nearest planet to the sun, it completes its orbit in only 88 Earth days. However, due to this close proximity, it is also the most volcanically active planet.

The average temperature on Mercury is 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). Its day is almost completely obscured by intense solar radiation and there is no true night because around 75% of the sun's rays are reflected back into space by the extremely thin atmosphere. The remainder is absorbed by the surface itself.

The presence of iron ore on Mercury was once thought to be evidence that the Solar System had originally contained more such planets that were lost over time. Current theories suggest that Mercury may have formed beyond the ice line of its parent body, which would explain its lack of internal water. However, scientists still do not know how much iron ore there is or if it could ever be used for construction projects one day.

In 2010, NASA launched MESSENGER, which is studying the interior and exterior of Mercury up close and personal. So far, the data has shown that there are no signs of life as we know it on Mercury nor any evidence that it ever supported life as we know it.

When was Mercury photographed?

NASA's Messenger probe sent the first photograph of Mercury ever shot from orbit around the planet early Tuesday morning. The image, taken at 5:20 a.m. EDT on March 29, depicts a large portion of Mercury's southern hemisphere. It is the first color picture of the planet's surface since it passed between the Earth and the Sun on February 2.

Messenger launched in 2004 on a three-year mission to study the planet's magnetosphere and radiation environment from orbit around Mercury. The $446 million project is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.

Mercury has no magnetic field of its own but instead gets protection from Earth's magnetic field. This allows particles from the sun to enter its atmosphere with little resistance, causing many geomagnetic storms at Mercury when Earth's magnetic field is actively changing.

These storms can cause power outages on Mercury, where there is only solar power for electricity production and no alternative energy sources available. In addition, much of Mercury's surface is still volcanically active, so disruptions in communication could arise as lava flows or calderas collapse under their own weight or due to meteorite impacts.

The photo was taken as Messenger approached the second of two orbits around Mercury.

About Article Author

Allison Clark

Allison Clark believes that there is a connection between the mind and body. She meditates, reads astrology charts, and studies dreams in order to find ways of alleviating stress for others. Allison loves reading about other people who have been in similarly dire situations as herself because it helps her to connect with those people on a spiritual level!


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