2020, December: Morning Star Venus in East

Venus during December 2020
Venus: In the morning sky during December, Venus steps through Libra and Scorpius, and into Ophiuchus.

Brilliant Morning Star Venus continues to shine in the eastern sky before sunrise during December.  It is beginning to slip into the sun’s glare. Watch it step eastward through the stars. The December 18 conjunction with Beta Scorpii is especially impressive.

At the beginning of the month, it rises about 2 hours, 20 minutes before sunrise.  It loses 2 to 3 minutes of rising time each morning.  By the eve of the new year, the planet rises 90 minutes before sunrise, after the beginning of morning twilight. 

The planet starts the month in Libra.  It moves eastward into Scorpius and then into Ophiuchus.

On December 18, Venus has a very close conjunction with the star Beta Scorpii (β Sco), formally known as Graffias (Crab).  The separation is about 50% larger than the Jupiter – Saturn gap three evenings after this conjunction.  This is a test whether you might need a binocular to clearly see Jupiter and Saturn as separate worlds in the sky,

For the notes that follow, look toward the southeastern sky about 45 minutes before sunrise.

Venus and Zubenelgenubi, December, 2020
December 1 – 5: Brilliant Venus passes Zubenelgenubi on December 3. This chart shows the motion of Venus compared to the star for a few days around the conjunction date.

Venus, December 1, 2020
2020, December 1: Venus is 3.3° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi.
  • December 1:  Venus starts the month, 4.8° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi.  With Zubeneschamali, this star makes the “claws.”
Venus, December 2, 2020
2020, December 2: One hour before sunrise, Venus is 2.2° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi .

Venus, December 3, 2020
2020, December 3: One hour before sunrise, Venus – low in the east-southeast – is 1.3° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi.

  • December 4:  Venus passes 1.4° to the left of Zubenelgenubi.
Venus, December 4, 2020
2020, December 4: Brilliant Venus is 1.4° to the left of Zubenelgenubi.
  • December 6:  Venus passes 0.6° to the upper right of Nu Librae (ν Lib).  Use a binocular to see the dim star.
Venus, December 9, 2020
2020, December 9, 2020: Venus low in the southeast.

Moon, Spica, Venus, December 9, 2020
2020, December 9: The crescent moon is over halfway up in the sky in the south-southeast. It is 3.3° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir, m = 3.4). It is above Spica and Venus.

Venus, Moon and Spica, December 10, 2020
2020, December 10, Venus, Moon, and Spica.
  • December 10:  Venus is between the dim stars Gamma Librae (γ Lib) and Iota Librae (ι Lib).
Venus and Moon, December 11, 2020
2020, December 11: One hour before sunrise, the crescent moon is to the upper right of brilliant Morning Star Venus.

Venus and Moon, December 12, 2020
2020, December 12: One hour before sunrise, the crescent moon is 4.2° to the upper right of Venus.

  • December 12:  The crescent moon (27.3 days after the New Moon phase, 6% illuminated) is over 13° up in the southeast, 4.2° to the upper right of Venus. In the starfield, the planet is 3.0° to the lower right of γ Lib.
  • December 15: Venus rises 2 hours before sunrise.  It is 2.2° to the lower right of Theta Librae (θ Lib).  Use a binocular. The planet is 3.7° to the upper right of Beta Scorpii.  Watch Venus quickly close the gap.
Venus and Beta Scorpii, December 2020.
2020, December 16 – 20: Venus passes Beta Scorpii in a close conjunction. This chart shows the motion of Venus relative to the starfield during five days.

  • December 17:  Venus is 1.1° to the upper right of β Sco.
  • December 18: Venus moves into Scorpius.  It crosses the constellation in four days.  Venus is 0.1° to the upper left of β Sco. Use a binocular to observe that the brilliant planet is 1.4° to the upper right of Nu Scorpii (ν Sco) and 1.0° to the upper left of Omega1 Scorpii (ω1 Sco). 
  • December 19: Venus is less than 10° in altitude in the southeast, 1.3° to the lower left of β Sco, 0.5° to the lower right of ν Sco, and 1.2° to the left of ω1 Sco.  Venus is below a line from ν Sco to ω1 Sco.
  • December 20: Venus – less than 10° in altitude in the southeast – is 2.5° to the lower left of β Sco. 
  • December 21: On this morning of the Great Conjunction, Venus is 3.8° to the lower left of β Sco and 0.7° to the right of Psi Scorpii (ψ Sco). Use a binocular to see the star.  This morning’s test is whether Antares is visible.  Venus is 6.2° to the upper left of Antares (α Sco). The star is less than 4° in altitude.  You’ll need exceptional observing conditions and a binocular to see it.   
  • December 22: Venus is 9.0° up in the southeast, 5.0° to the lower left of β Sco. The planet is 4.8° to the upper left of Antares that is over 4° above the horizon.
2020, December 23: Venus passes Antares.
2020, December 23: Venus passes Antares.
  • December 23: Venus is 5.5° to the upper left of Antares. 
  • December 24: Venus is 5.6° to the upper left of Antares and 1.2° to the lower left of Omega Ophiuchi (ω Oph).
  • December 25: Venus is 5.9° to the upper left of Antares, and 2.4° to the lower left of ω Oph. 

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