As a brilliant Morning Star, Venus passes through the Hyades during July 2020. Use a binocular to track the planet thorugh the starfield.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Read this article, for more about Venus as a Morning Star
Click here for our semi-technical summary of Venus as a Morning Star.
During July and early August, Venus moves through Taurus – from the Hyades to Zeta Tauri, the Bull’s Southern horn. As Venus moves through the star cluster, note the planet’s position each morning compared to the starfield. The Hyades star cluster, with Aldebaran, appears to make a letter “V” in the sky. While in the eastern sky the letter is on one side. Aldebaran is at the top of one side of the “V.” Epsilon Tauri marks the top of the other side.
While in the period of greatest brightness, Venus maintains nearly consistent apparent brightness to our unaided eyes, for most of the interval, diminishing slightly during early August.
In the notes that follow, the position of the planet is noted compared to the background stars. Use the chart above to look for Venus each clear morning. A binocular is helpful. Unless noted, each observation is for one hour before sunrise.
The month begins with Venus above the V shape. About an hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is low in the east-northeast. It is to the upper right of Delta 1 Tauri. (See the chart above.) Use a binocular to see the starfield with Venus. During the early days of the month, Venus moves closer to Delta 1. Venus passes the star on July 4.
On July 6, Venus is inside the “V.”
Beginning July 7, Venus is near Delta 2 Tauri. Note that Venus is along a line that includes Aldebaran, Delta1 and Delta 2.
On July 10 and July 11, notice that Venus passes between Aldebaran and Epsilon Tauri.
Venus passes to the upper left of Aldebaran on July 12.
On July 14, Jupiter is at opposition. Our planet Earth is between the Giant Planet and the sun. Jupiter and the sun are in opposite parts of the sky. Jupiter rises in the southeast at sunset, appears to move across the sky during the night, and sets in the southeast at sunrise. While Venus is in the east-northeast, Jupiter, along with Saturn, is in the southwest.
The moon joins the scene on July 17. In the crescent phase, the moon is 26.1 days past its New phase and is only 12% illuminated. The lunar crescent and Aldebaran are about the same distance from Venus. The moon is the left of Venus while Aldebaran is to the upper right. This is a photographer’s opportunity to capture a classic artist’s scene of the moon and Venus in the sky.
This date also marks the last morning of Venus’ interval of greatest brightness. The planet continues to sparkle in the morning sky, but just not as bright as the past several mornings.
Start looking for the five naked eye planets with the crescent moon. The optimal view is on the morning of July 19.
This is the optimal morning to see five planets and the lunar crescent. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Mercury is low in the east-northeast. The moon is to the speedy planet’s left. Brilliant Venus is near Aldebaran in the east. Reddish Mars is in the south-southeast. Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southwest. For those wanting more details see the daily note that follows:
- July 19: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, see the five naked eye planets with the crescent moon. Brilliant Venus is 21° up in the east, 4.5° to the lower left of Aldebaran. The moon (28.1d, 2%) is about 5° up in the east-northeast, 5.0° to the left of Mercury (m = 0.8). The Venus – moon gap is 27°. Mars is over 47° in altitude in the south-southeast. Jupiter – five days past its opposition – and Saturn, one day before its opposition, are in the southwest. Jupiter is about 4° in altitude and Saturn is 7.0° to Jupiter’s upper left. The gap between the moon and Jupiter is over 170° of ecliptic longitude. Dimmer Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are scattered along the ecliptic between Venus and Jupiter. During the next few mornings five planets are visible – along with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto with optical assistance – but without the moon. Additionally, Jupiter is quickly leaving the sky. On successive mornings, look 3-4 minutes earlier each day. You may catch all of them in the sky until about July 25. Find clear horizons to view Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter.
On July 20, Venus gleams in the eastern morning sky. Start looking for Betelgeuse low in the eastern sky, to the left of the east mark. Venus is high above the star. Orion’s other shoulder, Bellatrix is higher in the east. During the next week, begin looking for Rigel, low in the sky, about 15° to the right of the east cardinal point. To view these stars, find a clear horizon. Saturn is at opposition, nearly 14° up in the southwest at this time interval. It is 7.0° to the upper left of bright Jupiter. This evening, Saturn rises at sunset, crosses the meridian around local midnight, and sets at sunrise tomorrow morning.
Late in the month Venus begins to approach the Zeta Tauri, the Southern Horn of Taurus The closest approach occurs on August 2.
Next, Venus moves into Gemini