November 20, 2020: Brilliant Venus continues to shine in the east-southeast before sunrise. Catch Mercury before it disappears back into bright twilight and the sun’s glare. It is approaching Zubenelgenubi.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:47 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:26 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This morning brilliant Venus continues to sparkle in the southeastern sky before sunrise. It continues to move eastward in Virgo. Spot it each morning compared to the star Spica. This morning the star is nearly 6° to the upper right of the planet.
Mercury is nearing the end of its best morning appearance of the year. Look about 45 minutes before sunrise when it is about 6° up in the east-southeast. It is beginning to approach Zubenelgenubi – the Northern Claw. The star is dim and below the speedy planet. You’ll need a very clear horizon to see the planet. Use a binocular to spot the star.
Detailed note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is over 16° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon, 5.8° below Spica and 1.7° to the lower left of 82 Vir. Through a telescope the planet is 12.1” across and 86% illuminated, a morning gibbous phase. Mercury is nearly 14° to the lower left of Venus. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, the speedy planet is over 6° up in the east-southeast. Use a binocular to spot Zubenelgenubi (α Lib, m = 2.8), 3.1° below Mercury.
Read more about the planets during November.
November 3, 2021: Before sunrise speedy planet Mercury, the crescent moon, and the star Spica are grouped together. The trio does not appear this close together again until 2033.
October 31, 2021: There is no Halloween Full moon this year, and the phase is not close. The crescent moon is in the morning sky. Mercury is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The planet pack – Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter – gleam in the evening sky.
October 29, 2021: Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the sun. It is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn. The crescent moon and Mercury are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
October 29 – November 1, 2021: The crescent moon moves in front of the stars of Leo in the eastern sky before sunrise. Watch the moon appear lower and the phase shrink (wane) each morning. Also note that there is no Full moon on Halloween this year!
October 26, 27, and 28, 2021: During the early morning hours, the bright gibbous moon appears in front of Gemini’s stars.