Venus’ rapid appearance in the morning occurred quickly after its inferior conjunction in late October. On December 13, it has its earliest rise time (3:23 a.m. CST in Chicago). This earliest rise time is 48 days after its conjunction with the sun. On this morning, the Venus-Spica separation is13.8°.
Nearly a week later (December 19), the time interval between Venus rise and sunrise is greatest, 3 hours, 51 minutes, during this morning appearance. While the Venus rising time is still 3:23 a.m. CST (in Chicago), sunrise changes 4 minutes earlier in a week week. The gap between sunrise and Venus rising now decreases, on average, about 1 minute each morning until Venus rises at the beginning of twilight less than three months from this morning. Venus and Spica are 10.6° apart. This morning Venus is 4.3° above Zubenelgenubi (α Lib, m = 2.8). Through a telescope, Venus has a very thick morning crescent phase that is 40% illuminated. As it approaches its greatest elongation, watch the phase grow to the morning half phase during the next 18 mornings.
Our feature article about the morning appearance of Venus: