2020, December 18: Venus in Close Conjunction with Beta Scorpii

Venus, December 18. 2020
2020, December 18: Before sunrise, brilliant Morning Star Venus is 0.1° to the upper left of Graffias (β Sco).

December 18, 2020: As an opening act to the Great Conjunction, Venus passes the star Beta Scorpii at a distance slight larger than the closest distance of Jupiter and Saturn.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:14 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:22 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Venus moves into Scorpius, crossing it in four days. The section of the famous constellation where the planets move is very small and Venus moves quickly.

Find the planet low in the southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise.  It is very close to Graffias (β Sco), the Crab, only 0.1° away from the star.  The morning conjunction is an opening act for the Jupiter – Saturn conjunction in a few evenings.

The distance between Venus and the star is a little larger than the Jupiter – Saturn conjunction distance on Great Conjunction evening.

Unlike slow-moving Jupiter and Saturn, Venus moves quickly and the gap between the planet and the star is much wider tomorrow morning – 1.3°.

Can you see the star and the planet without optical help from a binocular?  This is a gauge as to whether you can see Jupiter and Saturn as separate “stars” in the sky on Great Conjunction evening.  Your eyes may need a little assistance from a binocular to see the planets separately.

Detailed Note: Venus moves into Scorpius.  It crosses the constellation in four days.  Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Venus – over 10° up in the southeast – 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, m = 4.0) and 1.0° to the upper left of Omega1 Scorpii (ω1 Sco, m = 3.9). 

See our summary about Venus during December 2020 and the feature article  about Venus as a Morning Star.

Read more about the planets during December.

Saturn (NASA)

2021, August 2: Saturn at Opposition

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2020, July 17: The crescent moon appears near Venus before sunrise. The night portion of the moon is gently illuminated by earthshine.

2021: August 1 – 6: Morning Moon, Bright Stars

August 1 – 6, 2021:  The morning moon wanes toward its New moon phase in the eastern sky.  It passes the bright stars that are prominent in the evening sky during the winter season in the northern hemisphere.  The stars have been making their first appearances in the morning sky during summer.  At this hour, Procyon and bright Sirius are the last stellar duo to appear.

2021, July 8: The flowers celebrate summer.

2021, August 6: Summer’s Midpoint

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The moon and Spica, December 10, 2020

2021, July 31: Morning Sky, Moon, Mira, Uranus

July 31, 2021:  The slightly gibbous moon, nearing its Last Quarter phase, is in the southeast as morning twilight begins.  It is near the planet Uranus, easily within reach of a binocular.  Mira, a variable star, reaches its brightest next month.

2021, May 13: Brilliant Venus, Mercury, and the crescent moon in the evening sky.

2021, July 29: Mars – Regulus Conjunction

July 29, 2021:  In a challenging-to-see conjunction, Mars passes 0.6° to the upper right of the star Regulus.

Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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