2020, September 4: Bright Planet, Bright Star

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.

2021, July 27: Four Evening Planets

July 27, 2021:  Evening Star Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are in the evening sky.  Mars is nearing its conjunction with Regulus in two evenings.

2021, July 26: Evening Sky, Mars Closes In

July 26, 2021:  Four bright planets are in the evening sky.  Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction.  Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.

2021, July 25: Evening Sky, Mars on Final Approach

July 25, 2021:  Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus.  As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.

2021, July 24: Four Evening Planets, Moon

July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky.  A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.

Categories: Astronomy

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