Month: January 2019

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


On another wickedly cold morning, the waning crescent moon is 2 degrees from the Morning Star Venus this morning, while Jupiter is 8.5 degrees to the upper right of Venus.  Venus passed Jupiter on January 22.  It moves farther east and passes Saturn on February 18.



Look through a binocular to see “earthshine” on the moon.  Sunlight reflected from Earth gently illuminates the night portion of the moon.

Venus and the moon about 20 minutes before sunrise.

More about the morning planets:


2019, January 30; Moon, Jupiter, and Morning Star Venus

2019, January 30: The waning crescent moon that is 24.4 days old appears 6 degrees to the upper right of bright Jupiter. Venus is over 7 degrees to the lower left of Jupiter.

The waning crescent moon, bright Jupiter, and Morning Star Venus shine from the southeast on this wickedly cold morning.  The crescent moon (24.4 days old and 24% illuminated), overexposed in the image, is 6 degrees to the upper right of bright Jupiter.  Venus, rapidly moving eastward is over 7 degrees to the lower left of Jupiter.  The star Antares appears to the right of the planets.  Tomorrow morning, the moon is near Venus.

See January 31’s photos

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 1 and 2: Moon with Saturn, Morning Star Venus, and Jupiter

The moon appears near the planet Saturn on the mornings of February 1 and February 2.

Here are the highlights of the mornings:

February 1: About 45 minutes before sunrise, Saturn, the crescent moon (26.5 days old — past the New phase, 10% illuminated), brilliant Morning Star Venus, and bright Jupiter span nearly 27° in the southeast.  Saturn is only 7° up in the southeast. The planets and moon are nearly equally spaced, about 9° apart.  Watch Venus continue to separate from Jupiter and close in on Saturn.  The Venus – Saturn conjunction occurs on February 18. This morning the gap is 18.5°.

February 2: At 45 minutes before sunrise, the very thin waning crescent moon (27.5 days old, 5% illuminated), 5° up in the southeast, is  about 3° to the lower left of Saturn.  The Venus – Saturn gap is nearly 167°. The Venus – Jupiter gap continues to grow, over 10° this morning, widening to over 15° on February 12.

More about the morning planets:

2019, January 29: The Moon Approaches Jupiter and Morning Star Venus

The waning crescent moon, 23.4 days old — past the New phase — and 33% illuminated, enters the photographic frame this morning as it approaches Jupiter and brilliant Morning Star Venus.  The moon, overexposed in the image, is over 18 degrees to the upper right of Jupiter. The next few mornings, the moon passes Jupiter and Venus.

Venus passed Jupiter a week ago.  This morning Venus is nearly 8 degrees from the Giant Planet.  Venus is heading toward a conjunction with Saturn on February 18.

More about the morning planets:

2019, January 27: Morning Star Venus, Jupiter, and Antares

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the southeastern sky this morning during twilight.  It is over 5 degrees to the left of Jupiter.  Venus passed Jupiter nearly a week ago and the gap widens each morning.  Venus is heading toward a conjunction with Saturn next month.

This morning Jupiter is nearly 9 degrees to the left of the star Antares that represents the “heart” of the Scorpion.

This morning, the Last Quarter moon is outside the frame, nearly 11 degrees to the left of the star Spica.  It is headed toward displays with Jupiter and Venus in a few days.

More about the morning planets:

2019: Mars – Uranus Conjunction, February 12

Mars passes dim Uranus on February 12, 2019. Use a binocular to locate the dim planet.

After its close opposition last summer, Mars has faded in brightness. It is now in the western sky after sunset.  It passes the planet Uranus on February 12.  Uranus’ brightness is at the limit of eyesight.  With most of the population living near bright street lights, a binocular is needed to locate the planet.  Those living in rural areas can find it without optical assistance by staying outside long enough for their eyes to see the dimmest stars.

At the end of evening twilight, Mars is “that bright star” about halfway up in the west-southwest.  It is west of the bright stars of Winter that are now dominating the southern sky.  Each night Mars is farther east when compared to the distant starry background as it moves through the dim stars of Pisces.  The brightest star in the region is Omicron Piscium, mostly indistinct to the unaided eye.  Uranus is to the upper right of that star, but do not confuse it with 54 Ceti that is nearly the same brightness and color as Uranus.

The chart above shows Mars’ path beginning on February 6, when it is 4° from Uranus.  The gap closes each night:  Feb. 7, 3.5°; Feb 8, 2.9°; Feb 9, 2.3°; Feb. 10, 1.8°; and Feb. 11, 1.2°.

The crescent moon (6.2 days past its New phase, 31% illuminated) passes about 6° to the lower left of Mars on February 10.  By this date, if you’ve not located the marching Mars, guidance from the moon’s location will help.

Mars passes 1° to the upper right of Uranus on February 12.  After this date, Mars separates: Feb. 13, 1.1°; Feb. 14, 2°.

Take a look to locate Uranus, one of the planets that is not easy to locate because it is dim.  Mars passing by makes it easier to locate.

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2019: February is Mercury’s Best Evening Appearance of the Year

2019: Mercury makes its best evening appearance of the year. It is found in the western sky about 30 minutes after sunset. Use a binocular to locate it , then look without optical assistance.
2019, March 1: Mercury shines in the west during bright twilight during its best evening appearance during the year.

Mercury has its best evening display during late February 2019.  The planet is almost always visible in bright twilight.  Here’s what you need:  A clear western horizon and a binocular.

The chart above begins on February 16; Mercury is only 6° up in the western sky. The chart shows the planet’s position 30 minutes after sunset.  Mercury appears as a bright star.  Find it first with the binocular and then try to locate it with optical assistance.

Each night the planet appears higher in the sky and dims rapidly.  By the end of February Mercury is only about half as bright as it appears on February 16 and over twice as high up in the sky.

On February 26, Mercury is at its greatest angular separation from the sun, known as its greatest elongation.  On this evening it is about 13° up in the sky.  Even past greatest elongation, Mercury appears higher in the sky as the month ends.  It is nearly 14° degrees up.

Mercury then heads back into the sun’s glare, appearing lower and rapidly dimming in brightness.  By early March, it is difficult to see with the unaided eye. On March 7, the waxing crescent moon passes over 8° to the left of the fading Mercury, but it will not be much help in locating the planet because of its proximity to Mercury.