December 8, 2020: The thick crescent moon is in the southern sky before sunrise. It is near the star Denebola, the Lion’s Tail. At that time, Venus is in the southeastern sky among the stars of Libra.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:06 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:20 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
About an hour before sunrise, the thick crescent moon – 44% illuminated – is high in the south. It is near Denebola – the Lion’s Tail. Regulus, the Lion’s Heart, is to the upper right of Denebola and the moon. Regulus appears at the bottom of a backwards question mark shape that is known as the Sickle of Leo, the curved harvesting blade.
Farther east brilliant Venus is low in the sky above the southeast horizon. The planet continues to rise 2-3 minutes later each day. It is in the starfield of Libra, 5.6° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi. It is near the dimmer stars of Nu Librae (ν Lib on the chart) and Iota Librae (ι Lib).
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is nearly 11° in altitude above the southeast horizon. It is 5.6° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi, 1.9° to the lower left of ν Lib, and 3.2° to the upper left of Iota Librae (ι Lib, m = 4.5). Farther west, the thick crescent moon (23.3d, 44%) is over 55° up in the south, 7.5° to the lower right of Denebola – the Lion’s tail.
See our summary about Venus during December 2020 and the feature article about Venus as a Morning Star.
Here is more about the planets during December 2020.
February 19-21: The bright moon moves through the constellation Taurus. Use a binocular to see the starry background with the moon.
February 18, 2021: The moon, waxing toward its First Quarter moon phase, is high in the southwest after sunset. Planet Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon. Mars is parading eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Aries as it heads toward the Taurus border.
February 6, 2021: Before sunrise, look east-southeast for the waning crescent moon. It is 4.5° to the upper left of Antares – the rival of Mars.