December 15, 2020: Near the Libra – Scorpius border, Venus is heading for Graffias, in Scorpius, in three mornings. See the planet low in the southeast before sunrise.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:12 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:21 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus is slowly slipping back into morning twilight. It loses about 2-3 minutes of rising time each morning, so that it appears lower in the sky. This morning it rises 2 hours before sunrise. An hour later it is low in the southeast.
With a binocular spot the planet to the lower right of the dim star Theta Librae (θ Lib on the chart).
Venus is approaching Graffias (β Sco), the Crab, for a close conjunction on the morning of December 18. The separation is about the same as the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn three evenings later.
Venus moves quicker than Jupiter so this approach to the star occurs during the next few mornings. The prelude to the Jupiter – Saturn conjunction seems painfully slow in comparison to Venus rapid eastward movement through the stars.
Detailed Note: Venus rises two hours before sunrise. One hour later, it is nearly 9° up in the southeast. With a binocular observe that it is 2.2° to the lower right of Theta Librae (θ Lib, m = 4.1). At this time the brilliant planet is 3.7° to the upper right of Beta Scorpii. (β Sco, m = 2.6). Watch Venus close the gap during the next two mornings: Dec 16, 2.4°; Dec 17, 1.2°. In a telescope, Venus is 91% illuminated – a morning gibbous – and 11.1” across.
Read more about the planets during December.
April 25, 2021: Mercury passes Evening Star Venus this evening after sunset. Look low in the western sky about 20 minutes after sunset. Mars is marching eastward in Gemini, near the star cluster Messier 35. The bright moon is near Spica.
April 25, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is in front of the stars of Aquarius, while Saturn’s starry background is Capricornus.
April 24, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight. The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo. Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
April 24, 2021: The bright gibbous moon is near a star in Virgo during the early morning. From parts of the Western Hemisphere, the moon covers the star. Before sunrise, bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.
April 23, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are found very low in the west-northwest after sunset. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the early evening. Mars is moving toward the star cluster Messier 35.