November 25, 2020: As Mercury slips back into the sun’s bright glare, Venus continues to shine from the east-southeast during morning twilight. It is stepping eastward among the stars of Virgo, near the Virgo-Libra border.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:53 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:23 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus shines brilliantly about 15° up in the east-southeast about one hour before sunrise. The planet rises at 4:23 a.m. CST in Chicago (2 hours, 30 minutes before sunrise). It is rising 2-3 minutes later each morning. Its altitude (height above the horizon) diminishes noticeably during the next month at one hour before sunrise. Later next month, we will reduce the observing window to 45 minutes before sunrise as Venus is making a slow slide into the sun’s glare.
This morning Venus is approaching the Virgo – Libra border. Use a binocular to locate two dimmer stars, Kappa Virginis (κ Vir on the chart) and Lambda Virginis (λ Vir). Venus is 1.1° to the lower right of κ Vir and 2.6° above λ Vir. The planet is right of an imaginary line that connects the two stars.
Mercury continues to slip back into the sun’s bright glare. Look for it about 30 minutes before sunrise. At this hour, the sky is considerably brighter than the observing window for Venus and the neighboring stars. A binocular may be needed to locate it less than 5° above the east-southeast horizon. One more morning and we will say “goodbye” to the planet until it reappears in the evening sky during January, leaving Venus the lone bright planet in the morning sky.
Just last summer, 5 planets were in the morning sky before sunrise.
Detailed note: One hour before sunrise, Venus is nearly 15° up in the east-southeast. It is 1.1° to the lower right of κ Vir and 2.6° above Lambda Virginis (λ Vir, m = 4.5). The planet is to the right of a line that connects the two stars. Through a telescope, Venus is 11.9” across and 87% illuminated, a morning gibbous. Thirty minutes later, Mercury – 15.3° to the lower left of Venus – is nearly 4° above the east-southeast horizon.
Read more about the planets during November.
morning sky before sunrise. Observe that the moon is in a different spot each morning, farther east toward the impending sunrise.
June 15, 2021: The moon is with the Sickle of Leo this evening. Step outside about an hour after sunset to find the crescent moon that is about 30% illuminated over one-third of the way up in the west.
July 12, 2021: Venus – Mars conjunction evening. Evening Star Venus passes 0.5° to the upper right of the Red Planet. The crescent moon is nearby. This is the first of three conjunctions of Venus and Mars – a triple conjunction.
July 1, 2021: Saturn and Mars are in opposite directions in the sky. Mars sets as Saturn rises. In about a week, the two planets are visible in the sky at the same time. This event signals that the planet parade is starting to reorganize. During July, three other planet – planet oppositions occur, leading up to a challenging view of the five bright planets during mid-August.
June 13, 2021: After sunset, look for the thin crescent moon near Mars. The lunar sliver is also to the upper left of the star Pollux.