Brilliant Morning Star Venus, the star Spica, and planet Mercury appear in the east-southeast together. Venus is passing Spica. Mercury is making its best morning appearance of the year.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:45 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:27 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus continues to shine as the bright Morning Star in the east-southeast before sunrise. It is moving eastward compared to the stars in Virgo. The planet rises about 2 hours, 40 minutes before sunrise. This morning it is 4.3° to the left of the star Spica.
By 45 minutes before sunrise, bright Mercury is over 13° to the lower left of Venus. This speedy planet rises about 90 minutes before sunrise.
Mercury is making its best morning appearance before sunrise. The planet is rarely visible in a dark sky and almost always during morning twilight or evening twilight.
During the autumn months before sunrise, the plane of the solar system is highly inclined to the horizon so that Mercury is easier to observe. The same occurs during the evening hours of springtime. The planet had a fine appearance during late May 2020.
Detailed note: One hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is over 16° in altitude in the east-southeast, 4.3° to the left of Spica. Among the dimmer stars of Virgo, Venus is 0.7° to the upper right of 82 Virginis (82 Vir, m = 5.0). The Venus – Mercury gap is 13.4°. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury is about 7° up in the east-southeast.
Read more about the planets during November.
December 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.
December 21, 2023: Winter begins in the northern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the evening sky three years after their Great Conjunction.
December 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.