2020-2021: Venus as a Morning Star, The Diagram

Venus rising diagram
This chart shows the rising time difference between Venus rising and sunrise. The time differences for other planets and bright stars are included. The rising time difference for the moon is displayed with circles. The setting times of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars are shown as well.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

The chart above, calculated from data from the U.S. Naval Observatory for Chicago, Illinois, shows the difference in rising time between Venus (green line) and the sun during the planet’s morning apparition. The three phases of twilight are included.   Other bright stars that appear near the ecliptic are graphed as well as the time differences for the other bright planets. The moon’s rising time differences are displayed as circles. All this activity occurs in the eastern sky. The setting time differences (circles) for Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars are included as well. When the planets set in the west at sunrise, they are at opposition. For Jupiter, this occurs on July 14, 2020, followed by Saturn six days later. Mars’ opposition occurs on October 13, 2020. Every date after their opposition dates the planets set in the west before sunrise until they disappear from the top of the chart, setting over 5 hours before sunrise.

When the Venus line crosses the lines of other objects, they rise at the same time. A conjunction occurs near the intersection. It is important to note that because two objects rise at the same time, they may not appear close together in the sky. While Antares, Aldebaran, and Pollux generally lie near the ecliptic, the conjunctions with planets can have gaps of several degrees. As an extreme example, Sirius and Venus rise within a few minutes of each other on September 15, 2020. Venus rises in the east-northeast and Sirius in the east-southeast. They are over 40° apart. Objects are selected for the graph that appear near the ecliptic. For this reason, Sirius is not graphed.

If a moon circle is displayed near one of the rising lines, a conjunction may occur on that date, or on the day before or day after the date the moon and that object are plotted together. Notes are on the graph to indicate the dates when the moon is near Venus, along with their angular separations. The closest grouping occurs on June 19, 2020, when they are separated by 1.0°. While they are low in the sky, the scene is that of a classic artist’s celestial painting. Other groupings occur when the moon is higher in a darker sky. Details are in the daily notes.

With the focus on Venus, conjunctions with stars are indicated with boxes on the Venus curve. The greatest morning (west) elongations of Venus and Mercury are indicated with yellow triangles and “GE” labels.

The midpoint (July 8) of the interval of Venus’ greatest brightness is marked with a yellow diamond shape and the “GB” label. While not a formal designation, the change in apparent magnitude is hardly distinguishable to the unaided eye during this period that runs from June 29 through July 17. The midpoint is near the date of the planet’s greatest illuminated extent (July 10). This occurs when the illuminated portion of the planet covers the largest area of the sky. This means the planet is very bright, at its theoretical maximum brightness. For a technical explanation, see https:/tinyurl.com/venus-greatest-illuminated.

For more about Venus as a Morning Star 2020-2021.

2020, June: Brilliant Venus Emerges Into the Morning Sky

Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky, July 21, 2012
2012, July 21: Brilliant Venus, Jupiter, Aldebaran, and the Pleiades rise into the morning sky.

After its inferior conjunction, brilliant morning star Venus appears in the morning sky, low in the east-northeast.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

After its inferior conjunction, Venus pops into the morning sky. It rises five minutes earlier each morning and it is visible low in the east-northeast. Be sure to view it with the moon on June 19. Continue to watch it as it appears higher in the sky at the same time each morning and Aldebaran and the Hyades appear through the morning twilight. At month’s end it begins an interval of its greatest brightness. Here’s what to look for:

Venus and the moon, June 19, 2020
2020, June 19: The moon makes its closest pass with Venus. They are 1.0° apart.
  • June 19: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, the old moon (27.8d, 4%), about 4° up in the east-northeast, is 1.0° to the lower left of Venus. Find a clear horizon to view the pair.
  • June 21: The planet continues to rise earlier. On this morning, Venus rises at Nautical Twilight, when the sun is 12° below the horizon. At this time sky is distinguishable from the ground. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, the planet is about 4° up in the east-northeast.
Venus and Aldebaran, June 26, 2020
2020, June 26: Brilliant Venus is 4.9° to the upper right of Aldebaran and 9.2° below Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades star cluster.
  • June 26: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Venus is about 8° up in the east-northeast. This brilliant planet is 4.9° to the upper right of Aldebaran and 9.2° below Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades star cluster. A binocular helps seeing the star cluster and Aldebaran.
  • June 29: During the next 18 mornings, Venus displays its greatest brightness. While the photometric brightness increases, your eye likely does not see any difference in the visual intensity of the planet. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Venus – over 10° in altitude in the east-northeast – is 4.6° to the upper right of Aldebaran. Use a binocular to see the star. Four naked eye planets – Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter – are scattered across the sky along 131° of the ecliptic. Dimmer Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in the sky between Venus and Jupiter as well.

Read more about Venus as a Morning Star during 2020-2021.

2020-2021: Brilliant Planet Venus as a Morning Star

Morning Star Venus and the Crescent Moon, January 29, 2014
2014, January 29: Brilliant Morning Star Venus appears with the crescent moon. The moon is 7.2° to the lower left of Venus.

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines brightly in the morning sky during 2020 and early 2021.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Click here for our semi-technical article about the apparition of Venus during 2020-2021.

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Articles:

Venus makes a grand entrance into the morning sky after its inferior conjunction on June 3, 2020, at 12:44 p.m. CDT. It races into the morning sky and a week after conjunction it rises at Civil Twilight, 32 minutes before sunrise. After mid-June, Venus gleams from low in the east-northeast sky during mid-twilight. By early July, Venus rises before the beginning of twilight and appears higher in the sky as sunrise approaches.

During July, Venus moves through the Hyades, with an Aldebaran conjunction on July 12. Watch the planet move through the star cluster with a binocular, during several mornings leading up to the Venus – Aldebaran conjunction.

On July 19, the lunar crescent and five planets are simultaneously spread across the sky with Jupiter low in the western sky and Mercury low in the eastern sky. Venus, Mars, and Saturn are scattered between them.

Other highlights of the Venus apparition include a grouping with the Beehive cluster in mid-September that includes the crescent moon on September 14; two mornings in October when Venus is about 0.5° from Regulus; a widely spaced Venus – Spica conjunction during mid-November; and an extremely close conjunction with Beta Scorpii in December. Mercury makes an appearance during November, but the gaps with Venus are very wide. At the end of the apparition, Venus passes Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter. Although they are near the sun, attempt to view the Venus – Jupiter Epoch (close) Conjunction during the day.

Venus reaches its superior conjunction on March 26, 2021, then slowly moves into the evening sky.

2020, May 15: Brilliant Evening Star Makes Its Last Stand

Venus and Elnath, May 15, 2020
2020, May 15: Venus is 1.8° to the lower left of Elnath.

Brilliant Evening Star Venus is making its last stand in the evening sky for 2020.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Venus is turning toward the sun and its inferior conjunction on June 3, 2020. The brilliant planet is quickly leaving the evening sky, appearing lower each night at the same time. By mid-June, it’ll shine brightly from the low in the east-northeast before sunrise.

This evening Venus is 1.8° to the lower left of Elnath, the Northern Horn of Taurus.

On May 19, look for Mercury, below Venus. The moon joins the scene on May 23.

Read this article for more about Venus as an Evening Star.

2020, May 13: Moon and Bright Morning Planets

The moon with Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, May 13, 2020
2020: May 13: The gibbous moon appears 8.7° to the lower left of Saturn. The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 4.7°.

The gibbous moon appears in the morning planet parade with Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Through a thin veil of clouds, the gibbous moon (overexposed in the image) is 8.7° to the lower left of Saturn. Jupiter is inching eastward among the stars toward its Great Conjunction with Saturn on December 21, 2020. This morning they are 4.7° apart.

Saturn is retrograding, appearing to move west among the stars. Jupiter’s retrograde begins tomorrow.

Mars shines from the southeast. This morning it is nearly 33° from Jupiter. Mars continues to march away from Jupiter and Saturn.

For more details about the morning planets, read more here.

For our daily semi-technical description of May’s planet events, click here.

2020, May 12: Evening Star Venus in the West

Venus and Elnath, May 12. 2020
2020, May 12: Venus is 1.5° to the lower left of Elnath.

Brilliant Evening Star is in the west this evening.

Two evenings after the Venus – Elnath quasi (near) conjunction, the brilliant Evening Star is making a left turn as it moves away from the star. During the next few evenings watch it move farther away and appear lower in the sky each night at the same time. This evening Venus is 1.5° to the lower left of Elnath.

Capella is the bright star to the upper right of Venus.

On May 19, look for Mercury, below Venus. The moon joins the scene on May 23.

Read this article for more about Venus as an Evening Star.

2020, May 12: Moon Joins Bright Morning Planets

Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, May 12, 2020
2020, May 12: The moon joins the morning planets, The gibbous moon is 3.1° to the lower right of Jupiter and 6.1° to the lower right of Saturn. Mars is farther east.

The moon joins the morning planets.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

This morning the gibbous moon, 19.3 days past the New phase and 72% illuminated, is 3.1° to the lower right of Jupiter and 6.1° to the lower right of Saturn.

Jupiter is inching eastward among the stars toward its Great Conjunction with Saturn on December 21, 2020. This morning they are 4.7° apart.

Mars is farther east, the Red Planet is over 32° to the left of Jupiter. It continues to march away from the giant planet pair in the south-southeast.

For more details about the morning planets, read more here.

For our daily semi-technical description of May’s planet events, click here.