2018: Venus in November Morning Sky


Venus approaches Spica during November 2018

Morning Star Venus approaches Spica in the morning sky during November 2018. Early in the month, look for Venus and Spica with a binocular. Each morning the pair appears higher, with Venus closer to Spica. Venus passes closest on the morning of November 14 and almost as high on November 20. Watch Venus approach Spica, then separate.

 

Brilliant Morning Star Venus zooms into the morning sky during early November, after its inferior conjunction – between Earth and the sun – in late October.

On November 1, at 20 minutes before sunrise, brilliant Venus is low in the east-southeast.  A binocular helps you locate the planet.  The star Spica is noticeably above the gleaming planet.

Each morning, Venus and Spica rise earlier and each morning during the first half of the month, Venus gets closer to Spica. The pair appears higher in the sky and farther southeast each morning.

Spica and other stars seem to make a seemingly unchanging background for the motions of the planets that results from their solar orbits combined with the rotation and revolution of our planet Earth.

By November 5, about 30 minutes before sunrise, the moon is (10°) above Venus.  The next morning, the thinning crescent moon is (9°) to the left of the brilliant Morning Star.

On November 9, Venus rises at the beginning of morning twilight.  As the sky brightens, Venus appears higher in the sky.  On this morning, Venus appears nearly 3 times closer than at the beginning of the month.  The gap continues to close each day.

By November 14, Venus appears about 2 full moon diameters to the lower left of the star.  In space Venus is about 30 million miles away.  Spica is nearly 260 light years away, where 1 light year is nearly 6 trillion miles.  Clearly, they are not actually close in space, but appear in the same direction, much like seeing your neighbor’s house in front of the rising sun.  In space, though, we don’t have the depth perception as we have with terrestrial subjects.

Venus does not pass the star, in an event known as a quasi-conjunction.  This occurs when a planet approaches near a star or another planet, but it does not pass it.  Afterward, Venus moves away from Spica.

Venus continues to climb into the sky compared to Spica, but the planet appears to be separating from the star.  The pair is nearly at the same height on the morning of November 20.

Astronomers use angles to measure the apparent sizes of celestial objects and the separations between them in the sky.  The full moon’s apparent size is 0.5°.  Your index finger, at arm’s length, covers about 1°.  Your fist covers about 10° What follows are the angular separations of Venus and Spica during the month.

Nov

V-S

Nov

V-S

Nov

V-S

1 6.2° 11 1.6° 21 2.4°
2 5.5° 12 1.5° 22 2.7°
3 5.0° 13 1.3° 23 3.0°
4 4.4° 14 1.2° 24 3.3°
5 4.1° 15 1.2° 25 3.7°
6 3.6° 16 1.3° 26 4.1°
7 3.2 17 1.5° 27 4.5°
8 2.8 18 1.6° 28 4.8°
9 2.3 19 1.8° 29 5.3°
10 2.1 20 2.1° 30 5.8°

 

 

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