November 26, 2020: Goodbye Mercury as the planet speeds back into the sun’s glare. It returns to the evening sky during the new year. Morning Star Venus continues to step eastward in Virgo.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:54 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:22 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
If you’re still tracking Mercury, it is very low in the east-southeast at about 30 minutes before sunrise. This is a challenge to see. An unobstructed, cloud-free horizon is required to see the planet with a binocular. So, we say “Goodbye” to Mercury until it returns to the evening sky during late January and early February of the new year.
This leaves Venus as the lone bright morning planet.
During recent mornings, we’ve watched Venus step through Virgo. This morning that eastern dance continues. The planet is near the Virgo – Libra border, almost between the stars Kappa Virginis (κ Vir on the chart) and Lambda Virginis (λ Vir). Ten days ago, it passed Spica in a wide conjunction. Notice its location compared to the star this morning. During the next few mornings notice its position compared to the κ Vir and λ Vir.
In two mornings, Venus moves into Libra.
Detailed note: One hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is over 14° in altitude in the east-south-east. With a binocular note that it is nearly between κ Vir and λ Vir, 1.8° to the lower right of κ Vir and 1.6° to the upper left of λ Vir. Thirty minutes before sunrise, Mercury is only 3° in altitude in the east-southeast, 15.6° to the lower left of Venus. Use a binocular to locate Mercury.
Read more about the planets during November.
During the early evening hours of winter, the stars that shine from the southern sky are a sampler of the sky’s brightest stars.
January 21, 2021: Several bright stars are in the morning sky. This morning look for Antares in the east-southeast. Mercury – near its greatest elongation – is in the west-southwest after sunset. Mars and the moon are near each other. Planet Uranus is near Mars.
January 20, 2021: Mercury is low in the west-southwest after sunset. The bright moon is to the lower right of Mars, while the Red Planet passes planet Uranus.