November 22, 2020: Brilliant Venus appears low in the east before sunrise. Venus is moving eastward in Virgo. Mercury is slipping back into the sun’s glare. Mercury approaches the star Zubenelgenubi.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:49 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:24 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus is the bright star in the eastern sky before sunrise. An hour before sunrise, it is about 15° up in the east-southeast.
During the next several weeks, Venus appears lower in the sky each morning at the same time interval before sunrise. The planet is slowly heading for its conjunction with the sun next year. This morning Venus rises 85 minutes before sunrise. By December 1, it rises 51 minutes before sunrise, losing over 3 minutes of rising time each morning,
This chart displays the rising time of Venus and other celestial objects in the eastern sky during the planet’s current morning appearance.
The planet has been in the morning sky since early June. It reaches its greatest brightness during July and dominated the eastern sky during summer. During late August and early September, it rose 3 hours, 42 minutes before the sun. While it continues its overwhelming brightness, its visual intensity has faded a little and it is lower in the sky.
There’s still more to see with Venus in the morning. It has two more appearances with the moon – December and January. During December it passes very closely to the star Beta Scorpii (Graffias), although the pair is low.
As Venus slides back into the sun’s glare, there’s a pre-sunrise conjunction with Jupiter. This is a challenge to see, but we’ll provide a guide to see it.
In the starfield, Venus is 4.1° to the lower left of 82 Virginis (82 Vir on the chart) and 3.7° to the upper right of Kappa Virginis (κ Vir).
Mercury is ending its best morning appearance of the year. About 45 minutes before sunrise, the planet is only 5° above the horizon. It is near the star Zubenelgenubi – the Northern Claw. You’ll need a clear horizon and a binocular to see the planet with the star.
What is the last date that you can see Mercury?
Detailed note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is over 15° up in the east-southeast. It is 4.1° to the lower left of 82 Vir and 3.7° to the upper right of κ Vir. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, use a binocular to observe Mercury – about 5° in altitude above the east-southeast horizon. The planet is 1.2° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi.
Read more about the planets during November.