December 23, 2020: Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the southeast before sunrise. It passes 5.5° to the upper left of Antares. The star is at its heliacal rising (first morning appearance).
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:16 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:24 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus slowly slips into bright sunlight. It is rising 2-3 minutes later each morning. This makes it appear lower in the sky each morning. About 45 minutes before sunrise the brilliant Morning Star is only about 9° in altitude.
Antares is making its first morning appearance (heliacal rising). Locate an unobstructed horizon to the southeast to see the planet 5.5° to the upper left of the star.
Detailed Note: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, brilliant Venus is low in the southeast, only about 9° in altitude. The planet is 5.5° to the upper left of Antares. A binocular and a very clear horizon may be needed to see the star. With the binocular look at the starry region of Ophiuchus and Scorpius to the upper right of Venus. In that starfield, Venus is 2.0° to the lower left of ψ Oph and 0.5° to the upper left of Omega Ophiuchi (ω Oph, m = 4.4).
Read more about the planets during December.
During the early evening hours of winter, the stars that shine from the southern sky are a sampler of the sky’s brightest stars.
January 21, 2021: Several bright stars are in the morning sky. This morning look for Antares in the east-southeast. Mercury – near its greatest elongation – is in the west-southwest after sunset. Mars and the moon are near each other. Planet Uranus is near Mars.
January 20, 2021: Mercury is low in the west-southwest after sunset. The bright moon is to the lower right of Mars, while the Red Planet passes planet Uranus.