As Venus moves toward its inferior conjunction on June 3 and into the morning sky, Mercury is emerging into the evening sky. This evening the speedy planet is 5.5° to the upper left of Venus. The crescent moon, 2,3 days past the New phase and 5% illuminated, is nearly 12° to the upper left of Venus. The star Elnath – the Northern Horn of Taurus – is 4.6° above Venus and 3.5° to the upper right of Mercury.
Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars shine in the sky before sunrise today.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
This morning the three morning planets – Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars – appear in the sky from southeast to south. Bright Jupiter is about one-quarter of the way up in the south. This giant planet is 4.7° to the right of dimmer Saturn.
Both planets are retrograding. They appear to move westward compared to the starry back ground. During the next several weeks, watch them separate. Later this year, Jupiter passes Saturn in a Great Conjunction.
Meanwhile, Mars is in the southeast. It continues to move way from Jupiter and Saturn. This morning it is over 40° from Jupiter.
Expecting to see the moon with Venus, storm clouds prevented the view. When the sky cleared, the moon had set. Venus sparkled low in the west-northwest. In the image above, Venus, Mercury, and Elnath are grouped into a pretty triangle. Mercury is 3.5° to the upper left of Venus and 3.1° to the lower left of Elnath The Venus- Elnath gap is 4.2°.
Venus is rapidly leaving the evening sky. In a few evenings it no longer appears there. After mid-June, it appears low in the east-northeast before sunrise.
Mercury is entering the evening sky for a brief appearance.
This evening Mercury appears 1.6° to the upper left of brilliant Evening Star Venus. Mercury continues to move beyond Venus. Venus is leaving the evening sky as it moves between our planet Earth and the sun on June 3.
Mercury is beginning its short evening journey before it heads to the morning sky in July where it joins four bright morning planets for an infrequent opportunity to see the five naked-eye planets simultaneously.
The star Elnath – the Northern Horn of Taurus – 3.8° above Venus.
Click here for our semi-technical summary of Venus as a Morning Star.
Click through the images of Venus during July 2020. Bookmark this page to return for new photos in the gallery.
During July and early August, Venus moves through Taurus – from the Hyades to Zeta Tauri, the Bull’s Southern horn. As Venus moves through the star cluster, note the planet’s position each morning compared to the starfield. The Hyades star cluster, with Aldebaran, appears to make a letter “V” in the sky. While in the eastern sky the letter is on one side. Aldebaran is at the top of one side of the “V.” Epsilon Tauri marks the top of the other side.
While in the period of greatest brightness, Venus maintains nearly consistent apparent brightness to our unaided eyes, for most of the interval, diminishing slightly during early August.
In the notes that follow, the position of the planet is noted compared to the background stars. Use the chart above to look for Venus each clear morning. A binocular is helpful. Unless noted, each observation is for one hour before sunrise.
The month begins with Venus above the V shape. About an hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is low in the east-northeast. It is to the upper right of Delta 1 Tauri. (See the chart above.) Use a binocular to see the starfield with Venus. During the early days of the month, Venus moves closer to Delta 1. Venus passes the star on July 4.
On July 6, Venus is inside the “V.”
Beginning July 7, Venus is near Delta 2 Tauri. Note that Venus is along a line that includes Aldebaran, Delta1 and Delta 2.
On July 10 and July 11, notice that Venus passes between Aldebaran and Epsilon Tauri.
Venus passes to the upper left of Aldebaran on July 12.
On July 14, Jupiter is at opposition. Our planet Earth is between the Giant Planet and the sun. Jupiter and the sun are in opposite parts of the sky. Jupiter rises in the southeast at sunset, appears to move across the sky during the night, and sets in the southeast at sunrise. While Venus is in the east-northeast, Jupiter, along with Saturn, is in the southwest.
The moon joins the scene on July 17. In the crescent phase, the moon is 26.1 days past its New phase and is only 12% illuminated. The lunar crescent and Aldebaran are about the same distance from Venus. The moon is the left of Venus while Aldebaran is to the upper right. This is a photographer’s opportunity to capture a classic artist’s scene of the moon and Venus in the sky.
This date also marks the last morning of Venus’ interval of greatest brightness. The planet continues to sparkle in the morning sky, but just not as bright as the past several mornings.
Start looking for the five naked eye planets with the crescent moon. The optimal view is on the morning of July 19.
This is the optimal morning to see five planets and the lunar crescent. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Mercury is low in the east-northeast. The moon is to the speedy planet’s left. Brilliant Venus is near Aldebaran in the east. Reddish Mars is in the south-southeast. Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southwest. For those wanting more details see the daily note that follows:
July 19: Forty-five minutes before sunrise, see the five naked eye planets with the crescent moon. Brilliant Venus is 21° up in the east, 4.5° to the lower left of Aldebaran. The moon (28.1d, 2%) is about 5° up in the east-northeast, 5.0° to the left of Mercury (m = 0.8). The Venus – moon gap is 27°. Mars is over 47° in altitude in the south-southeast. Jupiter – five days past its opposition – and Saturn, one day before its opposition, are in the southwest. Jupiter is about 4° in altitude and Saturn is 7.0° to Jupiter’s upper left. The gap between the moon and Jupiter is over 170° of ecliptic longitude. Dimmer Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are scattered along the ecliptic between Venus and Jupiter. During the next few mornings five planets are visible – along with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto with optical assistance – but without the moon. Additionally, Jupiter is quickly leaving the sky. On successive mornings, look 3-4 minutes earlier each day. You may catch all of them in the sky until about July 25. Find clear horizons to view Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter.
On July 20, Venus gleams in the eastern morning sky. Start looking for Betelgeuse low in the eastern sky, to the left of the east mark. Venus is high above the star. Orion’s other shoulder, Bellatrix is higher in the east. During the next week, begin looking for Rigel, low in the sky, about 15° to the right of the east cardinal point. To view these stars, find a clear horizon. Saturn is at opposition, nearly 14° up in the southwest at this time interval. It is 7.0° to the upper left of bright Jupiter. This evening, Saturn rises at sunset, crosses the meridian around local midnight, and sets at sunrise tomorrow morning.
Late in the month Venus begins to approach the Zeta Tauri, the Southern Horn of Taurus The closest approach occurs on August 2.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 is at its greatest brightness, 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.
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.
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.