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Astronomy/cool temperatures in planet Mercury ?


Dear Prof. Seligman,
  It would be possible, considering the low axial tilt of the planet Mercury (2,1 degrees), that we can get cool temperatures, supportable for human beings, if we put ourselves in a intermediate latitude between the eternal ices of a crater in the planet's north pole ( -189 C) - where it really exists and the sun never comes -, and a area where the sun light begins to reach the planet's soil ( zones of dark and dust) ?
Thank for a answer.
         Bill Plows

There isn't a latitude where normal temperatures are "moderate". Even at the Pole, if you were in full sunlight you'd quickly heat up to several hundred degrees, as would any rocks tilted so they directly faced the Sun. However, if you were in a shady spot not exposed to full sunlight, but only to heat and light reflected from the surrounding area, you might experience moderate temperatures. I say "might" because it would depend on how much of the surrounding topography was directly facing the Sun, how much was in shade, and how much was in sunlight but at a shallow angle. Some shaded areas might have a lot of sunlight reflecting off the surrounding rocks, and experience relatively high temperatures. Others, such as the insides of deep craters completely shielded from the Sun, might have temperatures far below zero (Celsius). And still others, with an intermediate amount of sunlit regions surrounding them, might have the sort of "earthlike" temperatures you are wondering about. However, it would be more a matter of hunting around for a suitably shaded and yet suitably sunny area than looking for a specific latitude where earthlike temperatures were more or less normal. That wouldn't happen just anywhere, regardless of the latitude.


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Courtney Seligman


I can answer almost any question about astronomy and related sciences, such as physics and geology. I will not answer questions about astrology and similar pseudo-scientific rubbish.


I have been a professor of astronomy for over 40 years, and am working on an online text/encyclopedia of astronomy, and an online catalog of NGC/IC objects.

Astronomical Journal, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (too long ago to be really relevant, but you could search for Courtney Seligman on Google Scholar)

I received a BA in astronomy and physics and a MA in astronomy, both from UCLA. I was working on my doctoral dissertation when I started teaching, and discovered that I preferred teaching to research.

Awards and Honors
(too long ago to be relevant, but Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi still keep trying to get me to become a paying member)

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