Day: December 10, 2018

2019, February 18: A Venus-Saturn Conjunction

In early February 2019, Venus continues to dominate the pre-sunrise sky.  Saturn emerges from its solar conjunction in January.  Venus passes 1.1° to the upper left of Saturn on the morning of February 18, less than 4 weeks after its Jupiter conjunction.  Here are the events leading up to the Saturn conjunction:

  • February 1: Saturn (m = 0.6) rises just before the beginning of twilight. At 45 minutes before sunrise, Venus (m = −4.3), 18° up in the southeast, is 18° to the upper right of Saturn, 7° up in the southeast.  Jupiter (m = −1.9) is nearly 10° to the upper right of Venus.  The waning crescent moon (26.5 days old, 10% illuminated) is about midway between Venus and Saturn. ( The magnitude, m, of a star is a numerical value assigned to its brightness.  The brightest stars have a magnitude of 1.  However, the planets and exceptionally bright stars, like Sirius, are brighter.  So in order to rank really bright celestial objects, the magnitudes become negative.  The sun is so bright (m=-26) it makes daytime on our planet!  So looking at the magnitudes here, Venus is brighter than Jupiter; Jupiter is brighter than Saturn.  Even when the moon displays a thin crescent it is brighter than Venus.)

  • February 2: The waning crescent moon (27.5 days old, 5% illuminated) is 3.1° to the lower left of Saturn. The Venus-Saturn gap is 16.7°.

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  • The gap continues to close: Feb. 9, 9.3°; Feb. 10, 8.6°; Feb. 11, 7.3°; Feb. 12, 6.1°; Feb. 13, 5.1°; Feb. 14, 4°; Feb. 15, 3.3°; Feb. 16; 2.2°; Feb. 17, 1.5°.  As we look at the moon, it is about 0.5° across.  That’s about equal to the size of your pointer finger when you stretch out your arm.  Two full moon diameters is 1.0°.

  • Feb. 18, Conjunction morning!  The separation is 1.1°. Venus is to the upper left of Saturn.  The planets look close, but they are about 900 million miles apart.  Traveling at the speed of our fastest spacecraft (25,000 miles per hour), the distance between them could be traversed in over 4 years! After the conjunction the gap widens: 19, 1.4°; Feb. 20, 2.4°; Venus is to the left of Saturn.

A second Venus-Saturn conjunction occurs during Saturn’s 2019 apparition.  It occurs in the southwest in mid-December.

Here is our feature article about Venus and its 2018-2019 appearance:

Here is a summary of the next six Venus-Saturn conjunctions:

                                      Venus-Saturn Conjunctions, 2019-2025

Date Location Separation Description
December 10, 2019 Southwest after sunset. 1.8° Look for the pair in the southwest after sunset.    Venus is to the lower left of Saturn.
February 6, 2021 Southeast before sunrise. 0.5° This is a very difficult conjunction to see.  Venus is only 2° up 10 minutes before sunrise.
March 29, 2022 East-southeast before sunrise. 2.1° About an hour before sunrise, the pair is easy to see. Venus is to the upper left of Saturn.  Mars is nearby, 4.4° to the upper right of Saturn.  On the morning before the conjunction, the waning crescent moon joins the scene.
January 22, 2023 West-southwest after sunset. 0.3° The pair is 8° up one hour after sunset.  Venus is left of Saturn.  The waxing crescent moon is about 8° to the upper left of Venus on the evening before the conjunction
March 21, 2024 East before sunrise. 0.6° This is another difficult conjunction to view.  The pair is less than 5° up 10 minutes before sunrise.  Venus is to the upper right of Saturn.
January 20, 2025 Southwest after sunset. 2.2° This is an easily viewed conjunction.  Venus is to the upper left of Saturn.  The pair is over 20° up in the southwest 2 hours after sunset.