January 14, 2021: Venus is slowly disappearing from the morning sky. It is low in the southeast during bright morning twilight.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:16 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:44 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Brilliant Venus rises later each morning. It is losing about 2 minutes of rising time each morning compared to the sun. The result is that it appears lower in the sky. Venus is less than 5° in altitude in the southeast at 30 minutes before sunrise.
This morning Venus rises at Nautical Twilight, a little over an hour before sunrise. This occurs when the sun is 12° below the horizon. The sky is fairly dark, but there is some illumination from the sun in the eastern sky. At this time, “only general outlines of ground objects are distinguishable; for navigation purposes, the horizon is barely visible,” according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.
Venus is becoming more difficult to see. It may be visible at this time interval (30 minutes) before sunrise until January 20 without optical aid. Afterwards, a binocular may be necessary.
Venus passes Saturn and Jupiter next month during the daytime. The conjunctions are easily observable with a small telescope.
Venus does not pass fully into the sun’s brilliant light until March 26. Afterwards, it appears in the evening sky later in the year.
Read about Venus during January.
Detailed Note: Venus rises before Nautical Twilight, 64 minutes before sunrise. It is less than 5° in altitude in the southeast at 30 minutes before sunrise. Depending on the weather and the view from your location, Venus may be visible low in the southeast until January 20 (or later) without optical assistance at about 30 minutes before sunrise. What is the last date that you see the planet without a binocular or telescope before sunrise? Venus does not reach its superior conjunction until March 26.
Read more about the planets during January.
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.