2020, June 15: Venus Joins Moon, Morning Planets


Venus low in the east-northeast, June 15, 2020
2020, June 15: Venus appears very low in the east-northeast about 25 minutes before sunrise.

Venus joins Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon in the morning sky.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

For more about Venus as a morning star during 2020, read this article.

Venus is now joining the morning planets, along with Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. Just 12 days after its solar conjunction, it is appearing low in the east-northeast during bright morning twilight.  Because of its brightness, it can be seen even in a bright sky.  The image above was made about 25 minutes before sunrise.  The planet was visible without a binocular, but through the binocular the planet displayed a thin crescent.

Farther along the eastern horizon, the crescent moon – 23.6 days past the New phase and 30% illuminated – is low in the east-southeast.  On Friday morning (June 19), the moon appears very close to Venus.  They are separated by about 1°, about twice the apparent size of the moon.  This is the closest grouping of the moon and Venus during this morning appearance of Venus.

On July 19, the five-naked eye planets (Mercury – Saturn) appear in the sky with the crescent moon.

The crescent moon and Mars, June 15, 2020
2020, June 15: The crescent moon and Mars in the morning sky.

Mars is over 25° to the upper right of the moon.  It continues its eastward march among the stars, moving farther from Jupiter and Saturn.

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, June 15, 2020
2020, June 15: The bright morning planets are visible across the southern horizon. Jupiter and Saturn are 5.3° apart in the southwest.

Jupiter and Saturn are in the southwest.  They continue to retrograde – move westward against the starry background.  Each night they rise in the east and move westward from Earth’s rotation.  Compared to the starry background, they seem to move backwards.  The forward motion is eastward compared to the stars.  The illusion of retrograde occurs as our planet approaches and passes a planet that is farther from the sun than Earth.  Jupiter and Saturn started retrograding last month and this continues until September.  Earth passes between these planets and the sun next month, Jupiter, July 14, and Saturn, July 20.

After the planets begin their direct motion, Jupiter over takes and catches Saturn in a Great Conjunction.  Such events occur every 19.6 years, about once every generation. This conjunction is the closest of the two planets since 1623.

Follow the planets in the sky during June.

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