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.
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.
- 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
- 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 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.
- 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.
- November 25: Venus passes 1.1° to the lower right of Kappa Virginis (κ Vir).
- November 28: Venus moves into Libra, 6.9° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi.
Read more about the planets during November.
December 11, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown: 10 days! Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southwest as night falls. Jupiter continues to close the gap to the Ringed Wonder. Farther eastward, Mars marches eastward in Pisces.
December 11, 2020: As sunrise approaches, the crescent moon is to the upper right of the brilliant planet Venus.
December 10, 2020: The Great Conjunction countdown: 11 days. Jupiter and Saturn are in the southwest as night falls. Bright Mars is in the southeast.