In early February elusive Mercury will commence its evening apparition in the western sky after sunset following its superior conjunction behind the Sun on 2019 JAN 29. This should be a fine apparition for most observers other than those south of the tropics.
On 2019 FEB 26 Mercury will attain its Greatest Eastern Elongation of 18.1°. Through a telescope on that date, it 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. By the standard of 30 minutes after sunset for Chicago, Mercury will reach its highest altitude of 11.2° on FEB 27. It will begin apparent retrograde motion in right ascension on MAR 04. While decreasing in brilliance, Mercury will fall to inferior conjunction between Earth and Sun on MAR 14.
Mercury will not appear near other bright planets or first magnitude stars during this apparition.
The Moon will appear near Mercury on 2019 MAR 07 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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