December 6, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus is in conjunction with the crescent moon this evening. Look for them low in the southwest after sunset. This is the final conjunction of Venus and the moon for this evening appearance of the planet.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:04 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:20 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
During its interval of greatest brightness, Evening Star Venus appears with the crescent moon this evening. This is not the closest conjunction of the two celestial wonders during this evening appearance of Venus, but it likely the most beautiful of this evening cycle. This is the final conjunction of Venus and the moon for this apparition. Here’s what to look for:
Step outside at 45 minutes after sunset. The brilliant planet Venus is about 15° up in the southwestern sky. The crescent moon, 10% illuminated, is 3.2° below the planet.
Through a small telescope, Venus’ phase is an evening crescent that is nearly 24% lit up.
The pair is easily visible for approximately the next hour without any optical assistance. The moon sets nearly 2 hours, 30 minutes after sundown. Venus follows about 10 minutes later.
Notice the earthshine gently lighting the night portion of the lunar orb. A binocular helps with the view. The scene can be captured with a tripod-mounted camera and exposures of several seconds, depending on the camera’s settings.
After this evening, the moon moves away from Venus and toward Saturn and Jupiter. This evening Saturn is nearly 16° to the upper left of Venus.
During the next week, Venus sets about one to two minutes earlier each evening. It is closing in on our planet to pass between the sun and us early next month.
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.
- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
- 2023, December 17: Celestial PairsDecember 17, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus passes Zubenelgenubi, a planet-star conjunction. After sundown, Saturn and crescent moon are paired, a planet-moon conjunction.
- 2023, December 16: Venus Clawed, Evening Crescent Nears SaturnDecember 16, 2023: Before daybreak, Venus is above the Scorpion’s southern claw. After nightfall, the crescent moon nears Saturn.
- 2023, December 15: Brilliant Morning Star, Evening Lunar CrescentDecember 15, 2023: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus approaches Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw. The crescent moon returns to the western evening sky.