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.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.
December 30, 2021: The morning crescent moon seems to be captured in the Scorpion’s pincers to the upper right of Mars. Four Evening Planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are in the southwest after sundown.
December 28, 2021: The Great Andromeda Galaxy is nearly overhead at the end of the evening twilight.