2019: February is Mercury’s Best Evening Appearance of the Year


2019: Mercury makes its best evening appearance of the year. It is found in the western sky about 30 minutes after sunset. Use a binocular to locate it , then look without optical assistance.
2019, March 1: Mercury shines in the west during bright twilight during its best evening appearance during the year.

Mercury has its best evening display during late February 2019.  The planet is almost always visible in bright twilight.  Here’s what you need:  A clear western horizon and a binocular.

The chart above begins on February 16; Mercury is only 6° up in the western sky. The chart shows the planet’s position 30 minutes after sunset.  Mercury appears as a bright star.  Find it first with the binocular and then try to locate it with optical assistance.

Each night the planet appears higher in the sky and dims rapidly.  By the end of February Mercury is only about half as bright as it appears on February 16 and over twice as high up in the sky.

On February 26, Mercury is at its greatest angular separation from the sun, known as its greatest elongation.  On this evening it is about 13° up in the sky.  Even past greatest elongation, Mercury appears higher in the sky as the month ends.  It is nearly 14° degrees up.

Mercury then heads back into the sun’s glare, appearing lower and rapidly dimming in brightness.  By early March, it is difficult to see with the unaided eye. On March 7, the waxing crescent moon passes over 8° to the left of the fading Mercury, but it will not be much help in locating the planet because of its proximity to Mercury.

 

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