Elusive Mercury will commence its evening apparition in the western sky after sunset following its superior conjunction behind the Sun on 2018 SEP 20. Due to the autumn positioning of the ecliptic after sunset, this should be a poor apparition for observers north of the the tropics but a fine one elsewhere.
On 2018 NOV 06, Mercury will attain its Greatest Eastern Elongation of 23.3°. By the standard of 30 minutes after sunset for Chicago, it will reach its highest altitude of 3.8° on NOV 10. Through a telescope on NOV 11, Mercury will be seen in dichotomy, i.e. 50% illuminated like a Half Moon. Prior to that it will appear gibbous and afterward as a crescent. Mercury will begin retrograde motion in right ascension on NOV 16. While decreasing in brilliance, it will fall to inferior conjunction between Earth and Sun on NOV 26.
Mercury will appear near other bright planets and stars on the following dates: Venus 2018 OCT 15, Jupiter OCT 28 & Antares NOV 09.
The Moon will appear near Mercury on 2018 NOV 09 without an occultation.
NOTE: Event dates in this article are for North American Central Time at those moments nearest to 30 after sunset for Chicago.
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