January 12, 2021: Brilliant Morning Star Venus is slowly slipping into the sun’s glare. It rises about 2 minutes later each morning this month.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:17 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:42 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Even two months before it passes on the far side of the sun (superior conjunction), Venus is becoming more difficult to see in the morning sky. It slips into bright morning twilight.
Venus rises 21 minutes later than it did at the beginning of the new year. This morning it rises 67 minutes before sunrise. By month’s end it rises only 36 minutes before sun rises.
The result is that Venus appears low in a brighter sky. This morning, it is only about 5° in altitude at 30 minutes before the sun appears.
Because it is brilliant, the planet is visible to the unaided eye, but it is likely behind a neighboring building, tree, or other obstruction. At this altitude above the horizon, it could be covered by clouds that extend into the distance.
Read about Venus during January.
Detailed Note: Thirty minutes before sunrise, locate Venus about 5° up in the southeast.
Read more about the planets during January.
Look for the bright rosy star Betelgeuse during February evenings. It makes up the shoulder of Orion the Hunter.
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.