Astronomy

2020, September 4: Bright Planet, Bright Star

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2020, September 4: Venus, Sirius, Procyon, and Orion shine from the eastern sky during early morning twilight.

Morning Star Venus and Sirius shine from the eastern sky during morning twilight during September.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Brilliant Venus shines from the eastern sky during early morning twilight.  The planet gleams in our sky from reflected sunlight. This morning the planet is nearly 82 million miles away.

Sometimes Venus is called the “Earth’s Twin” planet because the two planets are similar in size. Venus is completely veiled in clouds that are highly reflective.  They return to space nearly 70% of the sunlight that falls on them.  The clouds, oceans, and continents of Earth reflect about 40% of the sunlight that reaches them.

Sirius is visible low in the east-southeast during morning twilight. Sirius, the brightest star in Canis Major (Great Dog), is 8.6 light years away.  The star is over 20 times brighter than our sun.

For the next several weeks, the brightest star and the brightest planet shine in the morning sky.

While brighter than our central star, Betelgeuse and Rigel in Orion to the upper right of Sirius, are considerably farther away. 

Betelgeuse shines with the energy of over 13,000 suns.

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant – meaning that it is unusually large and intrinsically bright.  At a distance of about 500 light years, this enormous red star would cover several planets’ orbits if it were in our solar system.

Rigel, a topaz blaze in the morning sky, is even brighter.  It shines with the power of over 40,000 suns.

The spacing of Betelgeuse, Sirius, and Procyon in the sky make the Winter Triangle.  This trio is prominently placed in the sky during the evenings of the winter months.

Sirius, a few weeks past its first morning appearance, now shines with other bright stars in the morning.  Step outside and look the next clear morning for the brightest planet and the brightest star.

Here is a daily summary about the planets during September.

2020, December 7: Moon in Leo, Morning Star Venus, Jupiter Nears Saturn

In the morning before sunrise, the slightly gibbous moon is in Leo, between Regulus and Denebola. Brilliant Morning Star Venus is low in the southeast, stepping eastward in Virgo. With the Great Conjunction in two weeks, Jupiter is near Saturn in the southwest after sunset. Mars marches eastward among the stars of Pisces.

2020, December 6: Morning Star Venus, Gibbous Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars

As morning twilight is in progress, the moon is high in the southwest among the stars of Leo. It is near the “Sickle of Leo. At the same hour Morning Star Venus is dancing eastward in Libran near Zubenelgenubi. In the evening Mars is in the southeast, marching eastward in Pisces. In the southwest, Jupiter approaches Saturn as a prelude to the Great Conjunction in 15 days.

2020, December 5: Morning Star Venus, Gibbous Moon, Evening Planets

During morning twilight brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from low in the east-southeast before sunrise as it steps eastward in front of the stars of Virgo. The gibbous moon lies in front of the stars of Cancer, between Leo and Gemini. In the evening sky. Jupiter continues to dance toward Saturn in a prelude to the Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. In the east-southeast, Mars marches eastward among the dim stars of Pisces.

Categories: Astronomy

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