Skip to main content

What Jupiter and Mercury Have in Common?

Before we jump into premature conclusion with easy answers as 'nothing at all' or 'at least they are both orbiting the Sun' perhaps we could do some quick research for just in case... With equatorial radius of Jupiter almost thirty times bigger than the same property on Mercury, obvious composition difference between one gas giant and small rocky planet and all the other major difference in mass, density, temperature, orbital inclination, orbit period and with almost everything we could compare the two, it is very hard to find the slightest similarity. Not to say that Jupiter in its arsenal is in possession of moons equal or even bigger in size than the smallest planet of our Solar system.

However within past couple of seasons, what they had in common was the fact that they were under the spotlight of all of us who from time to time enjoy gazing the sky with naked eyes or through modest telescopes with strong feeling of being the witnesses of our own Solar system in works. It all started at the end of last year with rare Jupiter-Mercury conjunction when two planets came close to each other to the size of two moon-diameters. It was easily observed without any optical aids just after the sunset on December 21, 2018.

Even better show was on June 12, 2019. On that day, the giant planet was closest to Earth during the celestial event known as Jupiter’s opposition. At its closest point it came to within 641 million km from Earth. We took the chance to point the telescope and observe the mighty planet and its four largest Galilean moons - IO, EUROPA, GANYMEDE and CALLISTO. If you watch the video you'll find entire story of the event and more facts about history of the most famous moons along with short footage from the Sky-Watcher and references in video's description.

Culmination in our amateur astronomy happened couple of days ago on November 11, 2019 with celestial transit of Mercury over the face of Sun. It was the last transit of the small planet for a while and next time it is going to 'eclipse' the mother star again will be in 2032! It was hard to make the photo of the event since it was fuzzy and cloudy with sunset approaching rapidly but we made it at last and it was worth all the efforts.

Stay tuned for more celestial events in the future and maybe some more stories and photos from the active heavens along with our first long-exposure astro-photographs from outside the Solar system.

© 2023 Milan's Public Journal