November 28, 2020: Venus moves into Libra this morning as it approaches the “claw stars,” that were once part of Scorpius. Find the planet low in the east-southeast during morning twilight.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:56 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:21 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus moves into Libra today. The planet moves through the constellation in 20 days. All the constellations along the ecliptic are not of equal size.
The pattern has two brighter stars, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, the “Southern Claw” and “Northern Claw,” respectively. They are thought to have been originally part of Scorpius, which is east of Libra and below the southeastern horizon. The scorpion emerges from the sun’s glare later next month.
In his book The Stars in Our Heaven, Peter Lum recounts the possible history of the constellation. He wrote, “It was the Romans who first used this particular group of stars as part of the zodiac, and they originally placed there the figure of Julius Caesar, holding a pair of scales in his hand as a token of his infinite wisdom and justice. The human figure was soon eliminated” (p. 177).
This constellation is the only pattern that does not represent a living or mythological creature or as Lum writes, “the only inanimate object” (p. 177) for a constellation along the plane of the solar system that forms the starry backdrop for the motion of the sun, moon, and planets.
This article includes an “old school” chart that I made several years ago when we used calculators, graph paper, and press-on letters to make astronomical charts.
This morning, about an hour before sunrise, Venus is less than 15° up in the east-southeast. It is 4.0° to the lower left of Kappa Virginis (κ Vir on the chart) and 1.8° to the lower left of Lambda Virginis (λ Vir). The claw stars are lower in the sky. Venus is 6.9° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi.
During the next several mornings watch Venus approach the claws and move between them.
Detailed note: Venus is in Libra, 6.9° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi. The planet moves through the constellation in 20 days. One hour before sunrise, it is nearly 14° up in the east-southeast, 4.0° to the lower left of κ Vir and 1.8° to the lower left of λ Vir.
Read more about the planets during November.