Mercury Section        


April 11, 2022

Mercury Observing Watch on April 23, 2022

Those of you who received the April 2022 issue of Astronomy might have noticed the article, “The Strange History of Mercury's Spot” on p. 52. William Sheehan wrote the bulk of the story for which I provided him with some information. The Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli was renowned for seeing the canals on Mars, but he was also known for seeing odd markings on Mercury. He made a famous drawing on February 6, 1882, in which he recorded shading on the planet’s disk that resembled the number ‘5'. Nothing was confirmed at that time, so it was kind of sketchy.

As it turns out, on the upcoming evening of April 23rd, Mercury will be nearly in the same exact position where Schiaparelli saw the number '5' figure in the evening sky. As noted on the right side of p. 55 (and pointed out in my communication for the article), Mercury will display the same part of the surface, the same phase angle, and the same apparent disk diameter as when Schiaparelli made his sketch. So hopefully, that evening, you will have an opportunity to duplicate Schiaparelli's observation and see if you can make out the number '5' figure on the disk. With today's optics, you can probably succeed in capturing it if the seeing conditions allow. 


Mercury images


Please be sure to send the observations, whether you see the marking or not, to the ALPO at

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