Mercury will commence its winter evening apparition in the western sky around Christmas following its superior conjunction behind the Sun on 2014 DEC 07. This apparition will be a fairly good one for most observers unless well south of the tropics.
Greatest Eastern Elongation of 18.9° will be reached on 2015 JAN 14. By the standard of 30 minutes after sunset, Mercury will attain its highest altitude of 10.0° for Chicagoland observers on JAN 16. It will appear gibbous in a telescope until dichotomy (50% illuminated like a Half Moon) on JAN 16 and afterward as a crescent. Apparent retrograde motion will commence on JAN 20. While decreasing in brightness, Mercury will fall to inferior conjunction between Earth and Sun on JAN 30.
Mercury will appear near Venus on 2015 JAN 10. The Moon will appear to pass near Mercury on JAN 21.
NOTE: Event dates are for North American Central Time at those moments nearest to 30 minutes after sunset for Chicagoland.