Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the east-southeast before sunrise. This morning it is to the upper left of the star Spica, in a widely-spaced conjunction. As the sky brightens, Mercury is visible to the lower left of Venus, near the horizon.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:41 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:30 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Look eastward this morning before sunrise. An hour before sunrise, Venus is about a fourth of the way up in the sky. It’s a can’t miss as “that bright star” in the eastern sky.
This morning Venus passes 3.8° to the upper left of the star Spica. During the next few mornings watch the planet move away from the star.
Mercury is putting on its best morning display of the year, although it is low in the eastern sky to the lower left of Venus. It is bright, but likely hiding behind a neighbor’s house or other terrestrial obstruction. If you look below Venus through a binocular, you’ll likely see the bright planet. If you look carefully, you should see it without optical help.
This speedy and elusive planet is difficult to see even under the best circumstances as it is close to the sun. By month’s end, it’ll zip back into the sun’s glare and head for an evening appearance early next year.
Detailed note: Venus is at its northern most celestial latitude for this apparition, 1.78°. One hour before sunrise, Venus is nearly 17° in altitude in the east-southeastern sky. It is 3.8° to the upper left of Spica on this morning of its widely-spaced conjunction. Mercury is 13.0° to the lower left of Venus. Fifteen minutes later the speedy planet is nearly 8° in altitude
Read more about the planets during November.
See the moon and planets this evening.
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.