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.
February 18, 2021: The moon, waxing toward its First Quarter moon phase, is high in the southwest after sunset. Planet Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon. Mars is parading eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Aries as it heads toward the Taurus border.
February 6, 2021: Before sunrise, look east-southeast for the waning crescent moon. It is 4.5° to the upper left of Antares – the rival of Mars.
During February 2021, Mars parades eastward in the dim starfield of Aries and moves into Taurus, nearing a March conjunction with the Pleiades star cluster.