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Thursday, October 27, 2011

 

Daytime Occultation of Mercury by the Moon October 28, 2011

WARNING SIGNIFICANT EYE HAZARD, experienced observers only should attempt this observation.


Left image: The location of the Moon relative to the Sun just before Mercury is occulted. Middle Image: Approximate binocular view of the Moon, Venus and Mercury. Right Image: Location of Mercury just before occultation as seen with medium power telescope objectives.

The thin crescent Moon will occult the planet Mercury during the daylight hours of Friday October 28 as seen from Australia. Observing this occultation requires EXTREME CAUTION due to the possibility of eye damage. It can only be seen with good binoculars or a telescope, and every precaution MUST be taken to avoid the Sun being glimpsed through the telescope or binoculars as eye damage will occur.

Don't attempt this unless you have some experience. Make sure that the Sun is blocked by a seriously hefty object (like a wall or building, a tree isn't good enough), before attempting to observe. You must be sure no accidental telescopic or binocular exposure to the sun occurs.

The Moon will be a wire thin crescent (possibly difficult to see without binoculars), and Mercury a pale dot in any instrument you use, and it will be very difficult to see the unilluminated part of the Moon. This event will be seen Australia wide . Times of appearance and disappearance are given in the table below. The occultation is also visible for New Zealand, Indonesia and parts of South-East Asia, see http://transit.savage-garden.org/en/occultations/ for maps and times in UT.

City Disappears behind dark limb Reappears from Linkbehind limb
Australia

Adelaide (ACDST) 11:29 12:39
Brisbane (AEST) 11:07 12:40
Canberra (AEDST) 12:11 13:36
Darwin (ACST) 09:44 10:55
Alice Springs (ACST)

Hobart (AEDST) 12:30 13:26
Melbourne (AEDST) 12:13 13:35
Perth (AWST) 08:51 09:14
Sydney (AEDST) 12:12 13:41

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