Brilliant Venus, bright Mars, and the gibbous moon shine brightly in the morning sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
The gibbous moon, Mars, and Morning Star Venus shine brightly from the morning sky.
The moon, 75% illuminated, shines from high in the southern sky before morning twilight begins. This morning the lunar orb is 6.8° to the upper left of the star Aldebaran. The star and the Hyades star cluster form the face of Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran marks a Bull’s eye.
On the photo above, the tree’s leaves block most of the overexposed image of the moon. Aldebaran and the Hyades appear to the lower right of the moon.
Farther west, Mars is retrograding among the stars of Pisces. Retrograde motion is an illusion that seems to show that the planet is moving backwards compared to the distant stars.
The planets normally move eastward compared to the starry background. When Earth passes the outer planets, they show this retrograde motion. This motion was the major cosmological problem before the invention of the telescopes to make detail observations and photographs of the sky.
Just one day past its closest approach to Earth until 2035, the Red Planet continues to appear as an overly bright star in the sky.
Next week (October 13), Mars is at opposition with the sun. For us, Mars and the sun are in opposite directions. The planet rises in the east at sunset, appears in the south around midnight, and sets in the west at sunrise.
When near opposition, the outer planets display at their brightest in the skies of Earth.
On the photo above, Mars is 0.4° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc on the photo) and 2.9° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc). With a binocular make observations each morning to watch the planet approach and pass 80 Piscium (80 Psc) as it continues to retrograde.
Farther east, Morning Star Venus continues to step eastward in Leo. Now well-past Regulus, Venus approaches Rho Leonis (ρ Leo n the photo). This morning, Venus is 5.2° to the lower left of Regulus and 1.3° above ρ Leo.
Each morning look at Venus and the nearby starfield with a binocular as the planet steps away from Regulus and toward ρ Leo.
Watch Venus continue to move through Leo during most of October.
The moon is in the region with Venus and Regulus beginning October 12.
Read more about the planets during October.
Mercury begins to join Morning Star Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The moon is in the morning sky in the west. Three evening planets are found after sunset, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mars is in the east-southeast and the Jupiter – Saturn pair is in the south-southwest after sunset. Today is a heliocentric conjunction for Jupiter and Saturn.
Brilliant Venus continues to shine brightly in the morning sky. Venus is “that bright star” in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Venus steps eastward in Virgo as Mercury makes its best morning appearance for the year. The crescent moon joins the bright inner planets on November 12 and November 13.
Speedy Mercury joins Morning Star Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The first rock from the sun is entering the morning sky for its best appearance of the year. In the evening, Mars shines in the eastern sky, while in the south-southwest Jupiter edges toward its Great Conjunction with Saturn on December 21, 2020.