Astronomy

2020, November: Brilliant Morning Star Venus and Mercury

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November 1-15, Venus and Mercury: Venus and Mercury move through Virgo during the first half of November, Venus approaches Spica.

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.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Venus and Mercury are seen against the distant stars of Virgo for nearly the entire month, although late in the month, the move into Libra.

Read our feature article about Venus as a Morning Star.

2020, November 2: One hour before sunrise, Venus is 4.0° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir) and 1.4° to the lower left of Eta Virginis (η Vir).

Venus begins the month about 20° up in the east-southeast one hour before sunrise.  Mercury starts to climb into the morning sky and is visible low in the east-southeast 15 minutes later.

  • November 1:  Look for brilliant Morning Star Venus 0.3° to the lower left of Eta Virginis (η Vir).  Use a binocular to spot the dimmer star new Venus.  As twilight progresses, look for the star Spica low in the east-southeast with Mercury 3.9° to the lower left of the star.  Use a binocular to initially see the star and the speedy planet.  Can you find them without optical assistance?  Continue to look for Mercury each clear morning near Spica for the next several mornings.
  • November 5:  Venus passes 1.1° to the lower right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir).  Mercury is 4.5° to the left of Spica.
  • November 6: Mercury is about 5° to the left of Spica.
2020, November 7: About 40 minutes before sunrise, Mercury – low in the east-southeast – is 5.1° to the left of Mercury. Brilliant Morning Star Venus gleams from higher in the sky.

  • November 9:  This is the morning of the Venus – Mars opposition.  Venus no longer appears in the sky with Mars.  They appear together again next year when Venus enters the evening sky.
  • November 10: Look for brilliant Venus low in the east-southeast before sunrise.  Mercury is at its greatest elongation (apparent separation from the sun).  It is 6.9° to the lower left of Spica.
  • November 11: The lunar crescent is nearly 20° to the upper right of brilliant Venus. The planet – over 18° up in the east – is 7.5° above Spica and 0.9° to the upper right of Theta Virginis (θ Vir).  Bright Mercury is 7.8° to the lower left of Spica.  By 45 minutes before sunrise, the speedy planet is over 9° up in the east-southeast
2020, November 12: One hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is 0.3° to the lower left of Theta Virginis (θ Vir) in the east-southeastern sky. The crescent moon is 6.5° above Venus and 2.9° to the lower left of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir). Spica is 6.5° to the lower right of Venus, Mercury is hidden by clouds.
  • November 12:  One hour before sunrise, the crescent moon is 6.5° above Venus.  Forty-five minutes before sunrise, bright Mercury is nearly 13° to the lower left of Venus.  In a clear sky, today and tomorrow morning are excellent times to photograph the morning sky.  A crescent moon with Venus is always a photo-attractive scene.
November 16-20, Venus passes and moves away from Spica and continues eastward in the constellation, crossing into Libra as the month concludes.
2020, November 13: Sparkling Venus – nearly 18° up in the east-southeast – is 8.1° to the upper right of the old moon and 5.5° to the upper left of Spica. The lunar crescent is 6.9° to the lower left of Spica and 5.1° above Mercury.
  • November 13: One hour before sunrise, Venus is over 8° to the upper right of the lunar crescent and 5.5° to the upper left of Spica.  Mercury is nearly 13° to the lower left of Venus.
  • November 16: Venus passes 3.8° to the upper left of Spica.  Mercury is 13.0° to the lower left of Venus.
2020, November 16: Brilliant Venus shines in the east-southeast during morning twilight. It is 3.8° to the upper left of Spica and 13.0° to the upper right of Mercury.

2020, November 18: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Venus is 4.3° to the left of Spica in the east-southeastern sky. Mercury is 13.4° to the lower left of Venus.

2020, November 20: Before sunrise, bright Venus is low in the east-southeast, 5.8° to the lower left of Spica. Mercury is low in the sky.

  • November 21: Look for Venus low in the eastern sky about 1 hour before sunrise.  Use a binocular to spot Mercury 1.8° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi.  Both are low in the east-southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise.  Each morning continue to attempt to locate Mercury low in the east-southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise.  As the month wanes, Mercury disappears from the morning sky, leaving Venus as the lone bright morning planet.
2020, November 23: Venus shines from the east-southeast before sunrise.
  • November 25:  Venus passes 1.1° to the lower right of Kappa Virginis (κ Vir).
2020, November 28: Venus in the morning sky.
  • November 28: Venus moves into Libra, 6.9° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi.

Read more about the planets during November.

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