Day: December 26, 2018

2019, January 30 and 31: Morning Star Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon

Brilliant Morning Star Venus, bright Jupiter, and the moon put on a second dazzling display during late January 2019.  The first occurred at the beginning of the month.  During the two mornings displayed below note the moon’s changing position during the two days.   The moon is heading toward its New Phase on February 4.

  • January 30: About an hour before sunrise, look in the southeast for Venus and Jupiter. Venus (m = −4.3) is 7.7° to the lower left of Jupiter (m = −1.9). The waning crescent moon (24.5 days old — past its New Phase, 18% illuminated) is 6.1° to the upper right of Jupiter.

  • January 31: An hour before sunrise, the waning crescent moon (25.5 days old, 19% illuminated) appears 2° from Venus with Jupiter 8.5° to the upper right of Venus. This morning the moon and Venus resemble the stylized rock art “supernova” petroglyph on an overhang in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.  The unanswerable question is whether the artist was admiring a close conjunction of the moon and Venus or the moon and the supernova of 1054. (Or of some other bright star or planet near the moon’s ambling.)  Take a look and ponder the possibilities.
The Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, “Supernova” Petroglyph. Photo E. C. Krupp, Published in Scientific American Blogs

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2019: January 1-3: Morning Star Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon

The new year opens with brilliant Morning Star Venus, bright Jupiter, and the crescent moon in the southeast before sunrise.  Watch the moon appear lower in the sky each morning and its phase diminish as it heads towards its New Moon phase on January 5. Here’s what to look for:

  • January 1: At about an hour before sunrise, the waning crescent moon (25.3 days old — past its new phase, 19% illuminated) is 24° up in the southeast, with Venus (m = −4.6), 4.7° to the lower left of the crescent. The moon is nearly between Zubenelgenubi (Z1 on the chart) and Zubeneschamli (Z2). Venus’ rapid motion is carrying it toward a widely-spaced conjunction with Jupiter later this month.  Jupiter (m = −1.8) is about 18° to the lower left of Venus and 5.3° to the upper left of Antares.
  • January 2: Venus is 25° up in the southeast, about one hour before sunrise). It is 17.3° to the upper right of Jupiter, and slowly closing that gap. The waning crescent moon (26.2 days old, 11% illuminated) lies in between them.  The moon is 11.6° above Antares.  If you have a telescope look at Venus.  It has a phase, like the moon displays; the Venusian terminator (line that divides day and night) is slightly curved, indicating a very thick morning crescent phase; the half phase is only days away (January 6).
  • January 3: Again this morning an hour before sunrise, the waning crescent moon (27.2 days old, 6% illuminated) is 3.5° to the left of Jupiter. Brilliant Venus is 16.5° to the upper right of Jupiter.

The moon repeats it motion past these bright planets at month’s end.

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2018, December 26: Morning Star Venus and Jupiter

With a waning gibbous moon high in the southwest, brilliant morning star Venus shines during morning twilight from the southeast.  Jupiter is emerging from its solar conjunction.  Find a clear horizon to see Jupiter.

This morning the Venus-Jupiter gap is nearly 23 degrees.  Venus passes Jupiter on January 22.  The conjunction gap is about 2.4 degrees.  Watch the separation close during the opening days of the new year.

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