Mercury as Late 2016 Evening Star

Panorama of the western sky with Mercury and the Moon as seen from Chicago 30 minutes after sunset from 2016 NOV 18 to DEC 25 - See article below.

Mercury - Elongations & Altitudes - 2016-17

The planet’s elongations from the Sun and altitudes above the horizon as viewed from latitude N 42°

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Elusive Mercury is presenting its late 2016 apparition in the early evening southwestern sky following its superior conjunction behind the Sun on 2016 OCT 27. This should be a moderately good apparition for observers north of the tropics, but much better for folks further south.

   Mercury will reach its Greatest Eastern Elongation of 20.8° on 2016 DEC 10. By the standard of 30 minutes after sunset for Chicago, Mercury will achieve its highest altitude of 7.2° on DEC 14. Through a telescope that same day Mercury will appear in dichotomy, i.e. 50% illuminated like a Half Moon. Prior to that it will appear gibbous and afterward as a crescent. Apparent retrograde motion in right ascension will commence on DEC 18. While decreasing in brilliance, Mercury will fall to inferior conjunction between Earth and Sun on DEC 28.

NOTE: Event dates in this article are for North American Central Time at those moments nearest to 30 minutes after sunset for Chicago.

Mercury Angular Diameter - 2016-17

Graph of the apparent angular diameter of Mercury measured in arcseconds  -  Distance in AU = 6.68 / angular diameter

Mercury Illumination Phase - 2016-17

Graph of the percentage of Mercury’s apparent disk illuminated

Mercury Stellar Magnitude - 2016-17

Graph of the brightness of Mercury measured in stellar magnitude

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© Curt Renz

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