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.
July 6, 2021: In less than a week, brilliant Venus passes Mars in the west-northwestern sky after sunset. This evening the two planets are 3.8° apart. Venus is over 18° to the lower right of the star Regulus.
July 1 – July 7, 2021, the waning crescent appears in the eastern sky. Early in the viewing period, the moon is among the dim stars of Pisces. As the week progresses, the moon wanes and moves farther eastward, appearing near Taurus.
July 5, 2021: Our planet Earth reaches its farthest point in its yearly trek around the sun. Our seasons are not related to Earth’s distance from the sun. Coincidentally, the moon is at its farthest point from Earth today.
July 5, 2021: Venus continues to close in on Mars in the west-northwest after sunset. In a week Venus passes the Red Planet.
July 4, 2021: The Venus – Mars conjunction is eight days away. This evening Venus moves to within 5° of the Red Planet.