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2021, November – December: Venus, Sagittarius

The moon, January 15, 2021

2021, January 15: 2021, January 15: The thin waxing moon with earthshine, reflected sunlight from Earth’s features gently illuminates the lunar night.

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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.

2021, November and December, Venus moves eastward through Sagittarius.
2021, November 28: Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are lined up in the southwestern sky as if they are in a parade.

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.

2021, November 7: The crescent moon is 3.9° to the lower right of the brilliant planet.

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.

2021, December 7: Venus is at its midpoint of its period of greatest brightness. The planet is approaching Earth.

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.

2021, December 6: Brilliant Venus is 3.2° above the crescent moon.

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.

2021, December 28: Venus is 4.2° to the upper right of Mercury.

On December 28, Venus and Mercury are 4.2° apart.  Saturn and Jupiter are to the upper left of brilliant Venus.

Venus as an Evening Star Article

2022, January 5:  Jupiter – Evening Moon, Morning Mars

January 5, 2022: Jupiter and the crescent are 5.5° in the evening sky.  Look for Mercury and Saturn with the planet-moon duo.  Earlier, Venus is low in the west-southwest.  Before sunrise, Mars is near Antares.

2022, January 4: Earth at Perihelion

January 4, 2022:  Earth is at perihelion today – it’s closest point to the sun.  Mars is a morning planet, while the evening planet pack – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – and the crescent moon are in the southwest after sundown.

2022, January 3: Venus – Moon Conjunction

January 3, 2022:  The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus.  As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest.  Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.

2021, December 30:  Sirius at Midnight

December 30, 2021:  As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.

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