Twilight on Mercury
A ghostly solar coronal light reveals Mercury's rugged and inhospitable surface. High in the sky, the bright object at the two o'clock position is the Earth, which is in full-phase due to it being nearly behind the Sun. The three points of light beneath the Earth are the stars Graffias, Dshubba, and Pi Scorpii, all in the constellation Scorpius.
A visit to Mercury would not be without its aesthetic pleasures. Given Mercury's proximity to the Sun and its lack of atmosphere, prior to sunrise and sunset a visitor would be treated to a front row seat to the Sun's dazzling corona. Mercury's leisurely rotation rate* would permit the corona to be visible for as long as several Earth weeks before being either washed out by the brilliance of the rising Sun or disappearing below the horizon following a setting sun.
* Mercury's period of rotation is 59 Earth days, however this rotation rate combined with Mercury's brisk orbit around the Sun, results in 88 Earth days between sunrise and sunset.
Copyright © Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.
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