2020, November 3: Morning Star Venus, Mercury and Moon, Bull’s Horns

2020, November 3, 2020: Brilliant Venus shines in the east-southeast 45 minutes before sunrise. It is 2.8° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir on the chart). Mercury is low in the sky, near the horizon and 4.1° to the left of the star Spica.

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. Four hours after sunset, look for the moon between the bull’s horns.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:26 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:42 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times in your location.

Morning: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus is less than one-third of the way up in the east-southeast.  This is its first morning in Virgo for this morning apparition.  As the sky brightens further, Mercury rises higher in the sky, appearing near the star.  Farther west, the bright gibbous moon is near the star Aldebaran.

Morning detailed note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is about 20° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon.  Moving eastward in Virgo, the brilliant planet is 2.6° to the lower left of Eta Virginis (η Vir) and 2.8° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir).  Fifteen minutes later, Spica is over 6° up in the east-southeast.  Mercury (m = 0.5) is 4.1° to the left of the star.  Farther west, the moon (17.7d, 93%) – over 39° up in the west – is 4.8° to the upper right of Aldebaran. 

See our summary about Venus during November 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

2020, November 3, 2020: The bright gibbous moon appears to be caught in between the horns of Taurus. Look for the moon in the east-northeast about 4 hours after sunset. Block its light with your hand to observe to two horns, Zeta Tau (ζ Tau on the chart) and Beta Tauri (β Tau).

Evening:  As the sky darkens after sunset, Jupiter and Saturn are in the south-southwest.  Saturn is 4.9° to the upper left of Jupiter.  The Jovian Giant continues to close the gap to Saturn leading up to the Great Conjunction of 2020.  Use a binocular to view Jupiter against the starry background.  Rusty Mars is in the south-southeast in front of the stars of Pisces.  It is retrograding – moving westward compared to the starry background.  This continues for nearly two weeks.  About 9 p.m. look for the bright moon low in the east-northeast.  It is between the horns of Taurus.  Block the moon with your hand to see the dimmer stars of the bull’s horns.

Evening detailed note: One hour after sunset, Saturn is 26.0° up in the south-southwest, 4.9° to the upper left of Jupiter (m = −2.1).  In the starfield, Saturn is 2.1° to the lower left of 56 Sgr, while Jupiter is 4.1° to the lower right of the same star.  Jupiter continues to close the gap toward next month’s conjunction.  In addition, Jupiter is 1.3° to the left of 50 Sagittarii (50 Sgr). Mars (m = −2.0) is over 22° up in the east.  Among the stars, the planet is 2.2° to the upper right of 80 Piscium (80 Psc) and 3.2° to the lower right of Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc). Four hours after sunset (about 8:45 p.m. CST), the moon (18.3 days after the New moon phase, 89% illuminated) – over 19° up in the east-northeast – is between the Horns of Taurus.  Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau, m = 3.0) – the Southern Horn – is 4.3° to the lower left of the moon, while Beta Tauri (β Tau, m = 1.6°) – the Northern Horn – is 6.2° to the upper left of the lunar orb.

For more about the Great Conjunction, read our feature article. This is the closest Jupiter – Saturn conjunction since 1623.

Read more about the planets during November.

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