Brilliant Morning Star Venus was visible for the second half of last year in the morning sky. As 2021 opens, the planet is slowly slipping into the sun’s bright twilight.
On January 1, Venus rises nearly 90 minutes before sunrise. By 45 minutes before sunrise, the planet is about 6° in altitude in the southeast. It is over 12° to the lower left of the star Antares. It is necessary to have a clear view of the natural horizon to see the planet.
The planet becomes more challenging to see each morning. It is brilliant and it can be found during bright lighting conditions. Knowing where to look and using a binocular to help finding the planet’s initial location is a way to track the planet in the sky.
Each morning the planet rises about two minutes later. By month’s end, Venus rises 36 minutes before sunlight. It is very low in the southeast as sunrise approaches.
One highlight of the month is the crescent moon’s grouping with Venus. On January 11, 30minutes before sunrise, locate a clear horizon to observe the final visible grouping of the moon and Venus during this Venusian apparition. The razor thin crescent moon is 3.9° to the right of the brilliant planet.
Continue to track the planet in the morning. It passes its superior conjunction – on the far side of the sun – on March 26, 2021. The planet then slowly moves into the evening sky.
February 19-21: The bright moon moves through the constellation Taurus. Use a binocular to see the starry background with the moon.
February 18, 2021: The moon, waxing toward its First Quarter moon phase, is high in the southwest after sunset. Planet Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon. Mars is parading eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Aries as it heads toward the Taurus border.
February 6, 2021: Before sunrise, look east-southeast for the waning crescent moon. It is 4.5° to the upper left of Antares – the rival of Mars.