2019, January 22: Venus-Jupiter Conjunction

The brilliant Morning Star Venus passes bright Jupiter on January 22, in the first of two conjunctions during 2019.  Venus passed its inferior conjunction in late October, followed by Jupiter’s solar conjunction in late November 2018.  During December, Jupiter had a conjunction with Mercury, during the speedy planet’s very favorable apparition.

Other articles for Venus and Jupiter:

This Venus-Jupiter conjunction (2.4°) is not a close (epoch) conjunction as those in recent years.  A second conjunction (1.5°) follows later in the year as Jupiter heads towards its solar conjunction and Venus returns to the western sky as an Evening Star.  The second conjunction is visible low in the southwest during evening twilight, with the pair setting about 90 minutes after sunset.

At the January conjunction, the planets are found in the southeastern sky during early morning twilight.  On January 15, Venus (m = −4.5) rises nearly 3.5 hours before the sun followed by Jupiter (m = −1.8) nearly 30 minutes later.  The gap between the planets is 6.8°.  The gap closes each morning as Venus overtakes Jupiter:  Jan. 16, 5.9°; Jan. 17, 5.3° (Venus-Antares conjunction, 7.8°); Jan. 18, 4.4°; Jan. 19, 3.8°.

This diagram shows the eastward motion of Venus and Jupiter compared to the starry background from January 20 through January 24. Venus passes closest to Jupiter on January 22, in a widely-spaced conjunction where the planets are 2.4° apart.

The chart above shows a time lapse view of Venus as it approaches and moves past Jupiter, with Antares in the star field.  The separations shown on the chart: Jan. 20, 3°; Jan. 21, 2.6°; Jan. 22, 2.4°; Jan. 23, 2.5°; Jan 24, 2.9°.

After the conjunction, Venus continues its eastward gallop among the stars toward Saturn (m = 0.5) for a close conjunction on February 18.  On January 24, the end of this described sequence, Venus is nearly 25° to the upper right of Saturn, just 2° up in the southeast.   (See the companion article for more about this conjunction.)

After the 2019 Venus-Jupiter conjunctions, a series of epoch conjunctions occurs beginning on 2021.  The table below outlines the circumstances of those conjunctions.

Venus-Jupiter Conjunctions, 2021-2024

Date Separation When Description
February 11, 2021 26’ Morning This pairing is very difficult to see in the eastern sky as the planets rise in bright twilight just 25 minutes before sunrise.
April 30, 2022 29’ Morning The planets rise in the eastern sky about 90 minutes before sunrise.  In separation, this rivals the gap of the June 2015 conjunction, although it is lower in the sky.
March 1, 2023 32’ Evening This conjunction rivals the June 2015 pairing, with the planets high in the west after sunset, setting 2 hours, 30 minutes after the sun.
May 23, 2024 15’ Morning This pairing is impossible for casual observers to see as it occurs when the planets are nearly behind the sun hidden in the solar glare.
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2018: Morning Star Venus and Moon During Early December Mornings

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines in the southeastern sky in early December.  Look for a photogenic grouping of  Venus, Spica, and the Moon early in the month:  Here’s what to look for:

  • December 2: One hour before sunrise, the waning crescent moon is 13° above Spica. The Venus-Spica gap is 6.8°.  Mercury, is 7° up in the southeast, 30 minutes before sunrise.

  • December 3: One hour before sunrise, there is a spectacular grouping of the waning crescent moon Venus, and Spica.  They make a triangle, with the moon at the upper left corner.  The moon is 5° above Venus and 7° to the left of Spica. Venus is 7.4° to the lower left of the star.

  • December 4: One hour before sunrise the waning crescent moon (26.8d, 8%) is 9° to the lower left of Venus.  The Venus-Spica gap is nearly 8°.  The trio (Venus, Moon, and Spica) is nearly in a line.

Our feature article about the morning appearance of Venus:

2018: Venus at its Brightest Late November

2018, November 10, Venus is 2 degrees to the lower left of Spica.

  • November 24: Now rising in the southeast over 3 hours before the sun, brilliant Venus starts its stage of greatest brightness. For the next 11 days it displays its greatest visual intensity. It is important to note that this is not a singular event, but the duration of this greatest brightness occurs across several mornings. More formally, Venus is near its greatest illuminated extent, defined as a geometrical configuration when Venus has an elongation of 40° – midway between inferior conjunction and greatest elongation. This occurs December 1, when Venus’ illuminated portion covers more area of the sky than any other time during its apparition. (For a more technical explanation of greatest illuminated extent, see https://tinyurl.com/venus-greatest-illuminated.) For our description, greatest brilliancy occurs during a 11-day period when Venus displays its greatest visual brightness. Its brightness measured with light-sensitive equipment may slightly change, but our eyes cannot perceive that minute difference.

More about the appearance of Venus as a Morning Star:  Venus in the Morning Sky, 2018-2019

2018: December’s Morning Planet Dance

Three bright planets appear low in the southeast sky during late December.  Watch their movement during the five days highlighted to see them move in a celestial dance against the starry background, especially with Mercury passing Jupiter. Both planets are among fourth and fifth magnitude stars in southern Ophiuchus.  Mercury reaches greatest elongation (21°) on December 15, rising nearly 110 minutes before sunrise.  It stands about 20° above the horizon at sunrise. After its greatest elongation, Mercury rises about 2 minutes later each morning.  While the planets are moving eastward compared to the stars, Mercury appears lower each morning when viewed at the same time, as it heads back into bright twilight toward its solar conjunction.   This morning elongation of Mercury bookends the year, nearly matching rising intervals during its apparition in January.  Mercury moves fastest.  Watch it as it moves past Psi Ophiuchi and onward toward Jupiter for a conjunction on December 21.  Venus, above the Claws of the Scorpion (Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali), rises about 230 minutes before sunrise.  It moves closer to the Southern Claw during the mornings described below. A few weeks ago, Venus was at its phase of greatest brilliancy and greatest illuminated extent.  It appears about 25° above Jupiter and Mercury.   In comparison, Jupiter, about rising 90 minutes before sunrise, creeps against the sidereal scene. It is near Omega Ophiuchi.  Use binoculars to track the motion of the planets against the positions of the stars and to initially locate Antares which is very low in the sky.  The motion of Venus and Jupiter are described in detail in accompanying articles. The following describes the mornings at 45 minutes before sunrise:

December 19:  Brilliant Venus (m = −4.7) is 28° up in the southeast, 4.3° above Zubenelgenubi (α Lib, m = 2.8).  Bright Jupiter (m = −1.8) is 27° to the lower left of Venus.  Jupiter is 0.8° to upper right of Omega Ophiuchi (ω Oph, m = 4.4) and 5.3° to the upper left of Antares (α Sco, m = 1.0), although the star is only 3° in altitude.  Use binoculars to find it.  Mercury (m = −0.5) is 2.5° to the upper right of Jupiter and 1° to the upper right of Psi Ophiuchi (ψ Oph, m = 4.5).

December 20: This morning Jupiter is 1.6° below Mercury and 0.6° to the upper right of Omega Ophiuchi. Mercury is 0.6° to the lower left of Psi Ophiuchi.

December 21: Mercury, Jupiter and Antares are nearly in a line, spanning 6.1°; the Jupiter-to-Antares gap is 5.2°.  Jupiter is 0.9° to the lower right of Mercury, their closest separation, and 0.4° to the upper left of Omega Ophiuchi.

December 22: Jupiter is 1.2° to the right of Mercury (m = −0.4) and 0.2° to the upper left of Omega Ophiuchi.

December 23: Jupiter is 2° to the upper right of Mercury, which has an altitude of 5°.  The giant planet is 0.22° to the upper left of Omega Ophiuchi.  It passes 5.2° to the upper left of Antares and Mercury passes 6.1° to the upper left of the star.  Venus is nearly 25° to the upper right of Jupiter and 2.9° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi.

Jupiter-Antares conjunctions become more difficult to see at the time of their next two conjunctions.  On December 4, 2030, Jupiter is only 6.5° west of the sun when it passes 5.1° from Antares.  At the November 23, 2042, conjunction, Jupiter is 8.8° east of the sun, setting 30 minutes after the sun, and passes 5.1° north of Antares. Mercury passes between them on November 20.  The November 8, 2054, conjunction occurs when Jupiter sets 75 minutes after the sun.  It is 24° east of the sun and 5.1° above Antares.  The next conjunction that has the pair perfectly-placed in the evening sky is July 13, 2090, when they are on the meridian at 10:00 p.m. CDT, Jupiter is 5.2° north of Antares.

Back to the current apparition of Jupiter:  After the Jupiter-Mercury activity, Venus moves between the Scorpion’s claws, heading for a widely-spaced conjunction with the giant planet in January.  This is followed by a conjunction with Saturn in February.  More details are in the accompanying articles; look for a focused article about the Venus conjunctions in the Winter issue.

Related Articles:

2018, November 18: This Evening’s Moon

After several days of cloudy and wintry weather, the sky cleared this evening revealing a waxing gibbous moon high in the southeast.

2018, November 10: Morning Star Venus Sparkles Before Sunrise

November 10, 2018: Venus approaches Spica. This morning they are 2 degrees apart.

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines this morning from the pre-sunrise sky in the southeast.  The planet is 2 degrees to the lower left of the star Spica.  During the next four mornings watch Venus close in on the star.  A binocular helps with the location of Spica.

More about Venus in the morning sky: