For nearly 40 days, Venus moves eastward among the stars of Sagittarius. During early December, it reaches its greatest brightness. It gleams in the southwestern sky after sunset. On November 7, the moon joins Venus. A second grouping occurs on December 6. The planet and the moon appear together in likely their best show of the apparition. Venus is very bright with a crescent moon under it. The planet stops moving eastward after mid-December and begins its rapid descent from the evening sky.
Look for Venus low in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset.
To follow the planet’s eastward trek through the constellations, see this semi-technical summary.
On November 6, Venus passes 3.1° to the upper right of Alnasl (γ Sgr on the chart). The star represents the “point of the arrow,” of Sagittarius’ mythological creature.
The next evening (November 7), the moon makes its monthly grouping with the brilliant planet. The crescent moon is 3.9° to the lower right of the brilliant planet.
Venus continues its eastward trek. On November 10, it passes 2.6° to the upper right of Kaus Media (δ Sgr), “the middle part of the bow” of Sagittarius. Two nights later, it passes Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr), “the northern part of the bow.”
Venus passes 0.2° of Phi Sagittarii (φ Sgr) on November 16. A binocular helps to separate the planet and the star in the field of view.
Three nights later, the brilliant planet passes Nunki (σ Sgr), “the yoke of the sea.”
The planet continues to set later, appearing higher in the south-southwest at nightfall.
On November 27, the planet begins its interval of greatest brightness until December 14. The planet’s brightness will increase slightly during this interval of time, but likely the change is invisible to the unaided eye.
While not the closest grouping of Venus and the moon, the December 6 pairing occurs when the planet is very bright. The moon phase is only 10% illuminated. Use a tripod-mounted camera and a time exposure to capture earthshine on the moon. Through a telescope, the moon is only 24% illuminated.
On December 18, the planet stops its eastward trek and it begins to retrograde as it moves rapidly toward its inferior conjunction. By December 26, Venus is setting again at the end of evening twilight. It loses about 7 minutes of setting time each evening.
On December 28, Venus and Mercury are 4.2° apart. Saturn and Jupiter are to the upper left of brilliant Venus.
April 29, 2021: Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are in the west-northwest during bright twilight. As the sky darkens, Mars is at the feet of Gemini in the western sky. Through a binocular the Red Planet is above the star cluster Messier 35.
April 29, 2021: The bright moon is in the southwest before sunrise, near the star Antares. The morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast. The planets are 15.0° apart.
April 28, 2021: Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are low in the west-northwest during bright evening twilight. Later during the evening, Mars is at the feet of Gemini. Use a binocular to spot the star cluster Messier 35 below the Red Planet. Near midnight, the moon is in the southeast near Antares.
Advertisements April 28, 2021: This morning the bright moon appears to be caught in the pincers of the Scorpion and near the creature’s forehead. Bright morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. by Jeffrey L. Hunt Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:51 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:46 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise… Read More ›
April 27, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury climb into the evening sky in the west-northwest after sunset. In a darker sky, Mars marches eastward in Gemini, near the feet of the Twins. Look for the moon caught in the pincers of the Scorpion.