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.
January 6, 2022: Planet Mercury nears its evening greatest elongation. It appears in the evening sky, with a crescent moon, Jupiter, and Saturn. Venus sets soon after sundown. Mars is in the southeast before sunup.
January 5, 2022: Jupiter and the crescent are 5.5° in the evening sky. Look for Mercury and Saturn with the planet-moon duo. Earlier, Venus is low in the west-southwest. Before sunrise, Mars is near Antares.
January 4, 2022: Earth is at perihelion today – it’s closest point to the sun. Mars is a morning planet, while the evening planet pack – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – and the crescent moon are in the southwest after sundown.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.