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.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Helical RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 21: Winter Solstice, Great Conjunction Plus 3 YearsDecember 21, 2023: Winter begins in the northern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the evening sky three years after their Great Conjunction.
- 2023, December 20: Morning Star, Evening Moon Nears JupiterDecember 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.