December 28, 2021: Brilliant Venus is quickly slipping from the evening sky. Mercury appears beneath Venus after sunset. This duo is joined by Jupiter and Saturn. In the morning, Mars is near Antares and the moon near Spica.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:27 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The crescent moon, 35% illuminated, is 4.6° to the upper left of Spica this morning. Step outside about 45 minutes before sunup.
At this hour, Mars is low in the southeast, about 45° to the lower left of the lunar crescent. Look for it over 11° above the southeast horizon. It is not as bright as expected and a binocular may help to first locate it.
Yesterday, Mars passed Antares. Mars is a little farther away this morning, 4.5° to the upper left of the star.
Brilliant Venus is quickly slipping from the evening sky. In ten days, it moves between Earth and the sun, moving into the morning sky. At forty-five minutes after sunset, the Evening Star is only 7° up in the sky. Each evening watch it appear lower. In a week, it is not visible at this time interval after sunset.
As Venus leaves the evening sky, Mercury is entering. This evening, find it 4.2° to the lower left of the Evening Star.
Mercury joins Saturn and Jupiter. Saturn is 17.2° to the upper left of Venus and Jupiter is 18.3° to the upper left of the Ringed Wonder.
Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury are moving eastward compared to the starry background, while Venus is retrograding along the plane of the solar system.
- 2023, December 20: Morning Star, Evening Moon Nears JupiterDecember 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.
- 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.