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Encyclopedia > Transit of Mercury from Saturn

A transit of Mercury across the Sun as seen from Saturn takes place when the planet Mercury passes directly between the Sun and Saturn, obscuring a small part of the Sun's disc for an observer on Saturn. During a transit, Mercury can be seen from Saturn as a small black disc moving across the face of the Sun.


Naturally, no one has ever seen a transit of Mercury from Saturn, nor is this likely to happen in any foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the next one will take place on December 30, 2011.


A transit could hypothetically be observed from the surface of one of Saturn's moons rather than from Saturn itself. The times and circumstances of the transits would naturally be slightly different.


The Mercury-Saturn synodic period is 88.694 days. It can be calculated using the formula 1/(1/P-1/Q), where P is the sidereal orbital period of Venus (87.968435 days) and Q is the orbital period of Saturn (10746.940 days).


The inclination of Mercury's orbit with respect to Saturn's ecliptic is 6.38, which is less than its value of 7.00 with respect to Earth's ecliptic.


Transits of Mercury from Saturn are empirically observed to occur in clusters, with two such clusters every 30 years or so.


Note: the images linked to in the following table do NOT take into account the finite speed of light. The distance of Mercury from Saturn at inferior conjunction is approximately 9.1 AU or about 76 light-minutes. It can take up to 8 hours for Mercury to transit across the Sun at its widest point, thus the images correspond fairly closely to what would actually be seen by an observer on Saturn.


The images correspond to a hypothetical observer at the center of Saturn. Since Saturn has a large radius, the parallax of Mercury between Saturn's center and its north or south pole would be about 9.1", which is about 12.5 times Mercury's apparent angular diameter of 0.75", or about 4.3% of the Sun's angular diameter (about 3.5'). Therefore, some extremely close near-misses might be seen as grazing transits at Saturn's poles.


The transit that occurred on March 21, 1894 was particularly interesting, because during the transit of Mercury from Saturn there was simultaneously a transit of Venus from Saturn and a transit of Mercury from Venus.


Also interesting is the event of December 8, 2056, when there is a simultaneous near-miss of Mercury and Venus.


Near misses are indicated with strikeout.

Transits of Venus from Saturn
March 21, 1894 [1] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=0&vbody=6&month=3&day=21&century=18&decade=9&year=4&hour=23&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)

[2] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=2&month=3&day=21&century=18&decade=9&year=4&hour=23&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=3&bfov=3&porbs=1)

 
December 30, 2011 [3] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=12&day=30&century=20&decade=1&year=1&hour=17&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
March 28, 2012 [4] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=3&day=28&century=20&decade=1&year=2&hour=12&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
June 25, 2012 [5] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=6&day=25&century=20&decade=1&year=2&hour=8&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
September 22, 2012 [6] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=9&day=22&century=20&decade=1&year=2&hour=4&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
December 20, 2012 [7] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=12&day=20&century=20&decade=1&year=2&hour=0&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.5&bfov=0.5&porbs=1)
July 22, 2027 [8] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=7&day=22&century=20&decade=2&year=7&hour=19&minute=30&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
October 19, 2027 [9] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=10&day=19&century=20&decade=2&year=7&hour=8&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
January 15, 2028 [10] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=1&day=15&century=20&decade=2&year=8&hour=21&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
April 13, 2028 [11] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=4&day=13&century=20&decade=2&year=8&hour=10&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
July 10, 2028 [12] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=7&day=10&century=20&decade=2&year=8&hour=22&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
May 18, 2041 [13] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=5&day=18&century=20&decade=4&year=1&hour=16&minute=30&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
August 15, 2041 [14] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=8&day=15&century=20&decade=4&year=1&hour=12&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
November 12, 2041 [15] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=11&day=12&century=20&decade=4&year=1&hour=8&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
February 9, 2042 [16] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=2&day=9&century=20&decade=4&year=2&hour=4&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
May 9, 2042 [17] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=5&day=9&century=20&decade=4&year=2&hour=0&minute=30&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
December 8, 2056 [18] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=12&day=8&century=20&decade=5&year=6&hour=22&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
March 7, 2057 [19] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=3&day=7&century=20&decade=5&year=7&hour=10&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
June 3, 2057 [20] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=6&day=3&century=20&decade=5&year=7&hour=23&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
August 31, 2057 [21] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=8&day=31&century=20&decade=5&year=7&hour=11&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
November 28, 2057 [22] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=11&day=28&century=20&decade=5&year=7&hour=0&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
February 24, 2058 [23] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1&vbody=6&month=2&day=24&century=20&decade=5&year=8&hour=12&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)

See also

References

  • Albert Marth, Note on the Transit of Mercury over the Sun’s Disc, which takes place for Venus on 1894 March 21, and on the Transits of Venus and Mercury, which occur for Saturn’s System on the same day, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 54 (1894), 172–174. [24] (http://adsbit.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?1894MNRAS..54..172M)

External links

  • JPL Solar System Simulator (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/)

  Results from FactBites:
 
APOD Index - Solar System: Mercury (405 words)
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, orbiting at about 1/3 the radius of the Earth's orbit.
transit of Mercury is not all that rare.
Mercury's disk is silhouetted against the seething plasma as it follows a trajectory near the edge of the Sun.
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