Tag: Venus

2019: November 21-30: Venus-Jupiter Conjunction, Venus and the Moon & Moon, Mars and Mercury

Morning Sky

The moon passes two bright planets at the end of November.  Start watching on November 21 as the moon approaches them.  Notice each morning that the moon is lower in the sky and its crescent is thinner as it approaches its New Moon phase.

  • November 21: An hour before sunrise, the thinning moon, 32% illuminated, is 50° up in the southeast, is nearly 8° to the lower right of Denebola, the Tail of Leo. Mars is below the moon, over 13° up in the east-southeast. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury is nearly 7° up in the east-southeast.

  • November 22: An hour before sunrise, the crescent moon, 21% illuminated, is about 40° up in the southeast, 5.5° above the star. At the same time, Mars is below the moon, about 13° up in the east-southeast. Mercury is over 5° up in the east-southeast, about 10° to the lower left of Mars.

  • November 23: One hour before sunrise, the moon, 12% illuminated, is nearly 8° to the upper left of Spica. Mercury is over 6° up in the east, over 9° to the lower left of Mars.

  • November 24: One hour before sunrise, the thin crescent moon, only 6% illuminated, is 3.7° to the upper left of Mars, 15° up in the east-southeast. Mars is about midway between Spica and Mercury; Mercury – Mars, 9.5°; Mars – Spica, 9.7°. Tomorrow morning, at the closest approach, Mercury and Mars have about the same separation.

Evening Sky

Venus passes Jupiter on November 24, A few evening evenings later the crescent moon passes Venus for its closest approach during this appearance of Venus.

  • November 24: This evening is the Venus – Jupiter conjunction! Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus, nearly 7° up in the southwest, is 1.4° to the lower left of Jupiter . The next Venus – Jupiter conjunction is February 11, 2021 when the planets are less than 0.5° apart, but this Epoch (close) Conjunction occurs during bright morning twilight. On April 30, 2022, another morning Epoch Conjunction brings the planets within 29’ of each other.

  • November 28:  In the evening, at mid-twilight (about 45 minutes after sunset), Venus (−3.9) and the moon, 6% illuminated) have a classic appearance, with Venus 1.9° to the lower right of the moon. This is the smallest separation between the moon and Venus during this apparition of the planet. Next month, the Moon – Venus gap is 2.4° and widens each month thereafter during this appearance. Venus and the moon appear in the viewfinder of a camera with a 300 mm focal length lens. A longer exposure reveals Earthshine on the moon. At this time, Venus is about 7° up in the southwest and 4.7° to the upper left of Jupiter. The moon is 5.8° to the upper left of Jupiter.

Day-By-Day Description

This text was first published in the TCAA Observer.

  • November 21: An hour before sunrise, the moon (24.3d, 32%), 50° up in the southeast, is nearly 8° to the lower right of Denebola (β Leo, m =2.1). Mars is below the moon, over 13° up in the east-southeast. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = 0.1) is nearly 7° up in the east-southeast. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus, over 8° up in the southwest, is8° to the lower right of Jupiter.
  • November 22: An hour before sunrise, the crescent moon (25.3d, 21%) is about 40° up in the southeast, 5.5° above Gamma Virginis (γ Vir, m = 3.4). At the same time, Mars is below the moon, about 13° up in the east-southeast. Mercury (m = − 0.1) is over 5° up in the east-southeast, about 10° to the lower left of Mars. Thirty minutes after sunset, the Venus – Jupiter gap is 2.1°. Venus is over 8° up in the southwest.
  • November 23: The moon is at perigee at 1:41 a.m. CST, 227,867 miles away. One hour before sunrise, the moon (26.3d, 12%) is nearly 8° to the upper left of Spica. Mercury (m = −0.2) is over 6° up in the east, over 9° to the lower left of Mars. Today Venus moves into Sagittarius. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus, nearly 9° up in the southwest, is 1.5° to the lower left of Jupiter.
  • November 24: One hour before sunrise, the crescent moon (27.3d, 6%) is 3.7° to the upper left of Mars, 15° up in the east-southeast. Mars is about midway between Spica and Mercury (m = −0.4); Mercury – Mars, 9.5°; Mars – Spica, 9.7°. Tomorrow morning, at the closest approach, Mercury and Mars have about the same separation, although the gap is neither a conjunction nor a quasi-conjunction. At a quasi-conjunction, the planets are within 5°. At a conjunction, they must pass each other in either Right Ascension or ecliptic longitude. Today is the Venus – Jupiter conjunction! Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus, nearly 7° up in the southwest, is 1.4° to the lower left of Jupiter (m = −1.8). The next Venus – Jupiter conjunction is February 11, 2021 when the planets are less than 0.5° apart, but this Epoch (close) Conjunction occurs during bright morning twilight. On April 30, 2022, another morning Epoch Conjunction brings the planets within 29’ of each other. Tonight, Venus sets at its southern-most azimuth, 236°. It sets here until December 1. The planet is nearly 1.5° below the ecliptic. Jupiter sets at Astronomical Twilight (sun’s altitude, −18°), 98 minutes after sunset.
  • November 25: One hour before sunrise, Mars (m = 1.7) is 15° up in the southeast, 9.5° to the upper right of bright Mercury (m = −0.3), 7° in altitude. The thin crescent moon (28.3d, 2%) is 5.5° to the lower left of Mercury. You’ll need a clear horizon to see the moon. It’s only 3° in altitude. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus, over 7° up in the southwest, is 2.0° to the left of Jupiter. Fifteen minutes later, Saturn is 17° up in the southwest, 19° to the upper left of Jupiter.
  • November 26: One hour before sunrise, Mars, nearly 15° up in the east-southeast, is nearly 10° to the upper right of Mercury (m = −0.5). The moon is at its New phase at 9:06 a.m. CST. As evening twilight progresses, attempt to locate Venus 0.6° to the lower left of the Lagoon Nebula (M8, NGC 6530). This is certainly a stretch with the nebula low in the sky and during latter twilight. Venus is 5° up in the southwest, 1 hour after sunset. It is 2.8° to the upper left of Jupiter. This evening Venus sets at the end of twilight when the sun is 18° below the horizon. Venus sets after the end of evening twilight until May 19, 2020.
  • November 27: One hour before sunrise, Mercury, over 7° up in the east-southeast, is 2.1° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi (α Lib, m = 2.8). Use a binocular. Watch Mercury pass the star and move away from it during the next few mornings. At the same time, Mars is nearly 10° to the upper right of Mercury. Thirty minutes after sunset look for the crescent moon (1.3d, 2%), about 5° up in the southwest. It is nearly 11° to the lower right of Venus, with Jupiter between them, but Jupiter is closer to Venus. The planets are 3.7° apart.
  • November 28: Mercury reaches its greatest morning elongation (20.1°) at 4:27 a.m. CST. One hour before sunrise, Mercury (m = −0.6), about 7° up in the east-southeast, is 2.1° to the upper left of Zubenelgenubi. This morning’s distance is slightly larger than yesterday’s separation, when fractions of a degree are considered. Mars is over 10° to the upper right of Mercury. In the evening, at mid-twilight (about 45 minutes after sunset), Venus (−3.9) and the moon (2.3d, 6.3%) have a classic appearance, with Venus 1.9° to the lower right of the moon. This is the smallest separation between the moon and Venus during this apparition of the planet. Next month, the Moon – Venus gap is 2.4° and widens each month thereafter during this appearance. Venus and the moon appear in the viewfinder of a camera with a 300 mm focal length lens. A longer exposure reveals Earthshine on the moon. At this time, Venus is about 7° up in the southwest and 4.7° to the upper left of Jupiter. The moon is 5.8° to the upper left of Jupiter.
  • November 29: One hour before sunrise, Mercury, over 6° up in the east-southeast, is 2.6° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi. Mars is over 10° to Mercury’s upper right. Venus is at its most southerly declination, −24.8°. One hour after sunset, this brilliant planet is over 6° up in the southwest and over 5° to the upper left of Jupiter. The moon (3.3d, 12%) is 14° up in the southwest, 1.7° to the lower left of Saturn.
  • November 30: One hour before sunrise, Mars, 15° in altitude in the southeast, is 0.2° to the lower left of Lambda Virginis (λ Vir, m = 2.8). Mercury is nearly 11° to Mars’ lower left. The speedy planet is 3.6° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi. In the evening, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and the crescent moon span over 31°. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is over 8° up in the southwest. Venus passes 0.8° to the upper right of Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr, m = 2.8), the star at the top of the lid of the Teapot of Sagittarius. Through a telescope, Venus is 11.6” in diameter and 89% illuminated. Jupiter is nearly 7° to the lower right of Venus. Jupiter continues its eastward crawl toward Saturn, over 18° to Jupiter’s upper left. The crescent moon (4.3d, 20%), 22° up in the southwest, is over 13° to the upper left of Saturn.

 

2019, November 11-20: Mercury Transit & Morning and Evening Planets

Morning Sky

Mars is low in the eastern sky about 1 hour before sunrise near the star Spica.  The planet is dimmer and redder than blue Spica.  During the next several mornings watch Mars move away from Spica.  The chart above shows the planet and the star about one hour before sunrise.  Both are low in the east-southeast.

Begin looking for the moon in the western sky during pre-sunrise hours on November 12.  On the morning of Nov 14, notice that the bright moon is above Aldebaran and the “V” of Taurus.

During these morning hours, watch the moon appear farther east and higher in the sky each morning.

Mercury begins a morning appearance.  On November 20, it is low in the east-southeast about one hour before sunrise.  Find a clear horizon to see it.

Evening Sky

Venus becomes easier to see if you look early enough.  The chart above shows the early evening sky, about 30 minutes after sunset on November 11.  Venus closes in on Jupiter for a November 24 conjunction.  This evening Venus and Jupiter are 13° apart.  Saturn is dimmer and farther to south.  It will become visible as the sky darkens further.

The bright moon is in the eastern sky during evening hours November 11 – 16.  Look for it in the east, beginning one hour after sunset on November 11.  Each night look one hour later.  It appears in the eastern sky each night, with a slightly different phase, and in front of other stars.

By November 20, brilliant Venus is 3.9° to the lower right of Jupiter.  Look shortly after sunset.  Find a clear horizon.

Daily Notes

The notes were originally published in the Observer.

  • November 11: One hour before sunrise, Mars, over 10° up in the east-southeast, is 2.9° to the left of Spica. Mercury transits (crosses) the sun’s disk today. This is a slow-moving event, about 5.5 hours long as the sun rises higher into the sky. Mercury is moving east to west when it is between Earth and sun. So the planet appears to move from the lower left to the upper right on the sun’s face. Mercury is 10” across, only slightly smaller in apparent size than Venus current angular diameter and three times larger than Mars. The transit begins a few minutes before sunrise (6:37 a.m. CST). By 9:20 a.m. the planet is in the center of the sun’s disk when the sun is about 20° in altitude in the southeast. (At 9:22 a.m. Mercury is officially at inferior conjunction, moving toward the morning sky.) When the sun is in the south at 11:40 a.m. CST, Mercury is nearing the upper right limb of the sun. Shortly after noon (12:02 p.m. CST), the full disk of Mercury last appears in front of the sun. The solar disk is over 30° up in the southern sky. The planet completely leaves the sun’s face two minutes later. The next two transits of Mercury (November 13, 2032, and November 7, 2039) are not visible from Central Illinois. Both start after midnight and end before sunrise. The next transit of Mercury that is visible from the area occurs on May 7, 2049, when the transit begins at 6:03 a.m. CDT (if daylight saving time exists then) and ends at 12:44 p.m. CDT. One hour after sunset, the moon (14.8d, 100%) is about 11° up in the east. The Pleiades have about the same altitude as the bright moon; they are about 20° to the left of the lunar orb.
  • November 12: One hour before sunrise, Mars, over 10° in altitude in the east-southeast, is 3.1° to the left of Spica. At the same time, the moon (15.3d, 100%) is 8° up in the west. If you can see dimmer stars, the Pleiades are nearly 15° above the moon. The moon is at its Full phase at 7:34 a.m. CST. One hour after sunset, the moon (15.8d, 100%) is 5° up in the east-northeast.
  • November 13: One hour before sunrise, Mars is over 11° up in the east-southeast, 3.4° to the lower left of Spica. The moon (16.3d, 99%) is farther west at this time, about 20° up in the west. It is about 10° to the lower right of Aldebaran (α Tau, m = 0.8). Thirty minutes after sunset, the Venus – Jupiter gap is over 10°. Venus is 6° up in the southwest. Two hours after sunset, the moon (16.9d, 98%) is nearly 9° up in the east-northeast. It is at the top of the “V” of Taurus, which is on its side when it rises. The bright moon is between Aldebaran and Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau, m = 3.5), and closer to the dimmer star, about 0.7° to its lower right. Use a binocular to see the dim star with the very bright moon. The moon is 2.3° to the upper right of Aldebaran. Look for the moon in the west in the morning and notice how far it moved in its orbital pathway compared to the starry background.
  • November 14: One hour before sunrise, Mars, 11° up in the east-southeast, is 3.9° to the lower left of Spica. Through a binocular notice that Mars, 76 Virginis (76 Vir, m = 5.2), and Spica are nearly in a line. The dimmer star is nearly midway between Mars and Spica. The moon (17.3d, 96%) is in the west again this morning, about 30° up. It is 4.6° to the upper right of Aldebaran. In the evening, about 30 minutes after sunset, Venus is less than 10° to the lower right of Jupiter. At this hour Venus is nearly 7° up in the southwest. Three hours after sunset (about 7:30 p.m. CST), the moon (17.9d, 93%), about 12° up in the east-northeast, is 2.4° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau, m = 3.0), the Southern Horn of Taurus. Observe the star with a binocular. Compare the moon’s position in the morning. If you’re up late, the moon passes about 0.5° above the star at 12:30 a.m. CST tomorrow morning.
  • November 15: One hour before sunrise, the moon (18.3d, 91%), about 40° in altitude in the west, is 1.9° above Zeta Tauri. Mars, nearly 12° up in the east-southeast, is 4.3° to the lower left of Spica. Mercury (m = 2.6) is rapidly moving into the morning sky. For the next week it rises, on average, about 7 minutes earlier each morning. This morning it is 10° west of the sun. Rising about 45 minutes before sunrise, Mercury is at the horizon about 30 minutes before sunrise. During the daytime, the sun is in the sky a few minutes longer than 10 hours. Darkness, the time between the end of evening twilight and the beginning of morning twilight, is 10.75 hours long. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus (m = −3.9) is 7° up in the southwest, about 9° to the lower right of Jupiter. As the sky darkens further, Jupiter, nearly 9° up in the southwest, is about 20° to the lower right of Saturn. The Ringed Wonder is 20° up in the south-southwest. Four hours after sunset (about 8:30 p.m. CST), the moon (19.0d, 87%) is 0.7° to the lower left of Mu Geminorum (μ Gem, m = 2.8). As the moon leaves the early evening sky, this month’s deep sky focus is the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293). With the gems of the autumn sky – in the names of M31, M15, h Persei, and χ Persei – nearing the meridian, it’s easy to overlook the Helix Nebula – a planetary nebula. It is the remnants of an exploded star that pushed off its outer layers when the stellar core generated too much heat. It is in the dimmer starfield of Aquarius, nearly in the middle of a triangle shaped by Fomalhaut, Delta Capricorni, and Delta Aquarii. The target is 1.1° to the right of Upsilon Aquarii (υ Aqr, m = 5.2). The nebula is large, about half the size of the moon. At this hour it is nearly 30° up in the south, but 10° east of the meridian. If all the light from the nebula were collected into a single stellar point, it would shine at 6th In his Celestial Handbook, Robert Burnham describes the nebula’s appearance. “The ‘Helix Nebula’ is usually regarded as the largest and nearest of the planetary nebulae. Despite its large size the nebula is faint and has a low surface brightness. Binoculars will show the object as a large circular hazy spot, and it is not a difficult object for a small telescope if a low power ocular is used. A rich-field instrument with a wide-angle eyepiece is the ideal telescope for objects of this type” (pp. 192-194). The helix shape appears in short exposure photographs. A dim, 13th magnitude star is at the center of the nebula. From my limiting magnitude estimates, you’ll need at least a 5-inch telescope to see it and some averted vision. Of course, the larger the light collector, the easier it is to locate the central star. In Deep Sky Wonders, Walter Scott Houston reports on observing conditions and instruments that various sky watchers used to view the Helix. He summarizes that small apertures and low powers are best to see the nebula. When larger ‘scopes were used, observers needed filters to reduce the sky glow. Additionally, many observers reported only seeing a uniformly round shape, not the helix shape with the dark center seen in photographs. Can you see the dark center of the nebula? What were the observing conditions and the telescope/eyepiece used?

At mid-month, when morning twilight begins (about 5 a.m. CST), Sirius, Orion’s Belt, Aldebaran, and the Pleiades are lined up in the western sky at nearly the same altitude. The bright gibbous moon is above them in Gemini. Procyon and Capella stand at nearly the same altitude as the moon on November 16th. Leo is farther east. Its great Sickle has not yet reached the meridian. The head of Hydra, the Snake, is at the meridian. Six 3rd and 4th magnitude stars outline the snake’s head. They are nearly 60° up about halfway between Procyon and Regulus. The snake wiggles eastward below Crater and Corvus. The tail goes below the horizon ending near Libra. Alphard, the “Solitary One,” is Hydra’s brightest star, over 20° to the lower right of Regulus and nearly 40° up in the south. It is a second magnitude star, the brightest in this part of the sky. Farther eastward along the ecliptic from Leo, Spica is low in the southeast, with Mars nearby. With Spica in the southeast, Arcturus is nearly 20° up in the east. The Big Dipper is high in the northeast with its curved handle guiding us to Arcturus. Cassiopeia is low in the north-northwest. Mars continues as a not-so-bright star, moving slowly in Virgo. Mercury pops into the morning sky as the second half of the month progresses, brightening as the apparition proceeds. Watch it move toward Mars, but there is no conjunction. Mercury has a nice appearance with Zubenelgenubi, but the star is low in the sky. Find a clear horizon and use a binocular to find the star. At the end of evening twilight (about 6 p.m. CST), the Summer Triangle – Vega, Altair, and Deneb – stands high in the southwest. Jupiter is low in the southwest with Saturn, in eastern Sagittarius, to Jupiter’s upper left. The Great Square of Pegasus approaches the meridian, high in the south. The square’s pair of western stars point downward to Fomalhaut that is less than one-fourth of the way up in the southern sky. The great Winter Congregation is now making its way into the evening sky, with the Pleiades leading the way from low in the east-northeast. Aldebaran is lower near the horizon. Capella is in the northeast, at about the same altitude as the Pleiades. The “fishhook” of Perseus hangs above Capella with Cassiopeia higher and above Pegasus toward the meridian. The Big Dipper may be hiding behind a neighbor’s house or other nearby building as it is low in the north-northwest. Venus continues to move toward Jupiter with a conjunction occurring in over a week.

  • November 16: One hour before sunrise, Mars, 12° up in the east-southeast, is 4.9° to the lower left of Spica. The moon (19.3d, 85%) is in western Gemini, over 50° up in the west. It is nearly at the intersection of a large “+” symbol. The vertical leg is from Betelgeuse (α Ori, m = 0.4) to Castor (α Gem, m = 1.6); the horizontal leg is from Procyon (α CMi, m = 0.4) to Capella (α Aur, m = 0.1). Venus is 25° east of the sun. Thirty minutes after sunset, it is 7° in altitude in the southwest, nearly 8° to the lower right of Jupiter. Five hours after sunset (about 9:30 p.m. CST), the moon (20.0d, 78%) is nearly 7° to the lower right of Pollux.
  • November 17: One hour before sunrise, the bright moon (20.3d, 76%), 60° up in the southwest, is nearly 6° to the lower left of Pollux.   Mars, over 12° up in the east-southeast, is over 5° to the lower left of Spica. About 30 minutes after sunset, Venus is over 7° to the lower right of Jupiter. Venus is about 7° up in the southwest. At about 10:30 p.m. CST, (6 hours after sunset), the moon (21.0d, 68%), about 13° up in the east-northeast, is 12° below Pollux and 3.4° to the upper right of the Beehive Cluster (M44, NGC 2632). If you’ve not seen the cluster, use the bright moon as a guide to locate it. Return with low powers when the moon is out of this part of the sky. Look at the moon and the cluster in the morning when the moon is closer.
  • November 18: One hour before sunrise, the moon (21.3d, 66%) is 1° above the Beehive Cluster. Farther east, Mars marches eastward in Virgo to the lower left of Spica and the planet is nearly 13° up in the east-southeast. Thirty minutes after sunset, the Venus – Jupiter gap is nearly 6° with Venus to Jupiter’s lower right. Venus is about 8° up in the southwest.
  • November 19: An hour before sunrise (about 5:45 a.m. CST), the moon (22.3d, 55%), 65° up in the south, is about 9° to the upper right of Regulus (α Leo, m = 1.3). At the same time, Mars is nearly 13° up in the east-southeast. Mercury is entering the morning sky. It is higher and brighter each morning. During the next few mornings, use a binocular until you can see this speedy planet without optical assistance. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Mercury (m = 0.7) is nearly 6° up in the east-southeast, about 12° to the lower left of Mars. The moon reaches its Last Quarter phase at 3:11 p.m. CST. Thirty minutes after sunset, the Venus – Jupiter gap is about 5°. Venus is about 8° up in the southwest.
  • November 20: An hour before sunrise, the moon (23.3d, 43%), 60° up in the south-southeast, is nearly 7° to the lower left of Regulus. Mars is farther east at this hour, about 13° up in the east-southeast.   Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = 0.4) is nearly 11° to the lower left of Mars. Mercury is about 7° up in the east-southeast. Thirty minutes after sunset, the Venus – Jupiter gap is 3.9°. Venus is over 8° up in the southwest. Through a telescope, Venus is 11.2” across and 91% illuminated.

2019, November 1-10: Sky Events, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Moon

Before Sunrise

Look to the southeast, about one hour before sunrise for Mars.  It’s not bright but moving eastward among the stars of Virgo.  On November 1, it is to the lower right of the star Theta Virginis. Watch it move away from the star during the next few mornings. About 45 minutes before sunrise begin looking for Spica, the brightest star in VIrgo, low in the east-southeast. It is near its heliacal rising. What is the first day you can see it at this time interval without a binocular?

Around November 5, begin looking for Mars approaching the star Spica. By November 10 about one hour before sunrise, Mars, 10° up in the east-southeast, passes 2.8° to the upper left of Spica.

After Sunset

Brilliant Venus continues to slowly climb into the evening sky ahead of passing Jupiter later this month and Saturn in December.  Locate it in the southwest about 40 minutes after sunset.  It is low, so you’ll need a good view of the horizon.  On November 1, the crescent moon is near Saturn.  As the month progresses, the moon grows in phase and moves away from the bright evening planets.

The moon is at its First Quarter phase on November 4.

After the moon leaves the area of the planets it moves into dimmer star fields.

Share with us what you observe in the sky in our comments section.

Day-by-Day Semi-Technical Description of Events

(The daily notes were first published in the Observer, the Newsletter of the Twin Cities Amateur Astronomers.)

These notes describe events for each day:

  • November 1: In the morning, one hour before sunrise, Mars (m = 1.8), 7° up in the east-southeast, is 0.9° to the lower right of Theta Virginis (θ Vir, m = 4.4). Use a binocular to see this pair in the growing twilight. Today and for the next six days, Mars and Venus have the same solar elongations, 21°, November 1-3; and 22° November 4-7. Mars is west of the sun in the morning sky while Venus is east of the sun in the evening sky. About 45 minutes before sunrise, begin looking for Spica (α Vir, m = 1.0). During the daylight hours, the sun is in the sky for a few minutes less than 10.5 hours. There is more darkness, the time between the end of evening twilight and the start of morning twilight, than daylight. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus (m = −3.8), 4° up in the west-southwest, is over 20° to the lower right of Jupiter (m = −1.9). Venus moves into Scorpius today, and the planet sets about an hour after sunset. Through a telescope, Venus is 11” across and 94% illuminated. While Scorpius is a large constellation, the section the ecliptic cuts through is short, only about 6.5° in length. Venus traverses the constellation in a week. Mercury (m = 0.7) is a challenge to locate. At this hour, it is near the horizon. It is the only naked eye planet not easily visible. One hour after sunset, Jupiter (m = −1.9) is 12° up in the southwest, 22° to the lower right of Saturn (m = 0.6), 22° up in the south-southwest. The crescent moon (4.8d, 26%), Saturn, and Nunki (σ Sgr, m = 2.8) – the star in the handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius – make a nice triangle. The separations: Moon – Saturn, 4.1°, moon to the lower right of Saturn; Moon – Nunki, 3°, moon to the upper right of the star. Saturn – Nunki, 4.5°, planet to the upper left of the star.
  • November 2: One hour before sunrise, Mars, 8° up in the east-southeast, is 1° to the lower right of Theta Virginis. In the evening sky, one hour after sunset, the crescent moon (5.8d, 36%) is over 8° to the left of Saturn. The moon is 23° up in the south-southwest.
  • November 3: Daylight Saving Time ends. Our clocks revert to standard time, but our time intervals in these daily notes remain the same when compared to sunrise or sunset. One hour after sunset, the moon (6.8d, 46%) is 26° up in the south. It is in western Capricornus, nearly 8° to the lower left of Beta Caprcorni (β Cap, m = 3.0). Use a binocular to see the star in the moon’s growing brightness as the moon moves through dimmer starfields.
  • November 4: The moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 4:23 a.m. CST. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus, about 5° up in the southwest, is 1.5° to the lower left of Graffias (β Sco, m = 2.5). Use a binocular. Venus sets at Nautical Twilight, when the sun is 12° below the horizon. Tonight that’s 62 minutes after sunset. One hour after sunset, the moon (7.8d, 55%), 28° up in the south, is nearly 6° to the lower right of Delta Capricorni (δ Cap, m =2.8). While the moon approaches Pisces and it is not full, watch for the Harvest Moon effect. This occurs when the moon approaches coordinates 0 hour, Right Ascension and 0° declination (Vernal Equinox) and that point is low in the eastern sky. That point is to the lower left of a dozen 4th magnitude stars that make the western fish of Pisces. More specifically, it is about 3.5° to the lower left of Lambda Piscium (λ Psc, m = 4.6). At this time, the Vernal Equinox is about 30° up in the southeast. (The Vernal Equinox is the name of this point as well as the event when the sun’s apparent position is on these coordinates, signaling the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.) During the next several evenings the moon is farther east, but its altitude does not diminish much at the same time each evening. You don’t need a full moon to observe the effect that the moon approximately appears at the same altitude for a few evenings when the Vernal Equinox is low in the eastern sky and the moon is near that location.
  • November 5: One hour before sunrise, Mars, over 8° up in the east-southeast, is 4.2° to the upper left of Spica (α Vir, m = 1.0). (Have you seen Spica without optical assistance about 45 minutes before sunrise?) As the sky begins to darken, 30 minutes after sunset, Venus is 5° up in the southwest, over 19° to the lower right of Jupiter. Thirty minutes later, Saturn is 22° up in the south-southwest, over 21° to the upper left of Jupiter, 11° up in the southwest. Jupiter and Saturn continue moving eastward against the starry background. Jupiter is in southern Ophiuchus, and Saturn is in eastern Sagittarius. Farther east, the moon (8.8d, 65%), 29° up in the south-southeast, is nearly 7° to the lower left of Delta Capricorni. The moon is in western Aquarius this evening.
  • November 6: One hour before sunrise, Mars, over 8° up in the east-southeast, is 3.8° to the upper left of Spica. One hour after sunset, the moon (9.8d, 73%) is in eastern Aquarius, about 30° up in the southeast. It is nearly 18° to the upper left of Fomalhaut (α PsA, m =1.2). This star is not near the ecliptic, but with the moon in front of dimmer starfields, Fomalhaut serves as a distant marker for the passing of bright solar system objects. In The Friendly Stars, Martin and Menzel describe Fomalhaut’s unique place. “There is a calm dignity to this star that lends much interest to it. It comes gently into view far down in the southeast in August, but with so little of a flourish that one scarcely notes its presence until along in early September. Then, when the days are growing shorter, some evening, just after dark, one sees it, a conspicuous, impressive object serenely trailing along over the small arc of its circle in the south with no companion near it, and, apparently, no need of one to add to its splendor” (p. 45). In his Celestial Handbook, Burnham notes, “To the dwellers at the latitude of New York, it is the southern-most of the visible 1st magnitude stars” (p. 1485).
  • November 7: The moon is at apogee at 2:36 a.m. CST, 251,691 miles away. One hour before sunrise, Mars, nearly 9° up in the east-southeast, is 3.4° to the upper left of Spica. As the sky darkens after sunset, look for Venus about 6° up in the southwest, 30 minutes after sunset. It is over 17° to the lower right of Jupiter. Half an hour later, Jupiter, 11° up in the southwest, is over 21° to the lower right of Saturn, over 21° up in the south-southwest. Farther east, the gibbous moon (10.8d, 81%), in eastern Aquarius, is nearly 27° up in the southeast.
  • November 8: One hour before sunrise, Mars, nearly 9° up in the east-southeast, is 3.1° to the upper left of Spica. Venus moves into Ophiuchus, 16° to the lower right of Jupiter. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus is 6° up in the southwest. Thirty minutes later the moon (11.8d, 88%) is nearly 24° up in the east-southeast. It is in Cetus.
  • November 9: One hour before sunrise, Mars, nearly 10° up in the east-southeast, is 2.8° to the upper left of Spica. In the evening, thirty minutes after sunset, Venus, nearly 6° up in the southwest, is 3.9° to the upper right of Antares (m = 1.0). The Venus – Jupiter (m = −1.9) gap is 15°. One hour after sunset, the moon (12.8d, 94%) is 20° up in the east-southeast. It is in Cetus for a second evening.
  • November 10: One hour before sunrise, Mars, 10° up in the east-southeast, passes 2.8° to the upper left of Spica. Thirty minutes after sunset, Venus is 6° up in the southwest. Though it is low, through a telescope, the planet is nearly 11” across and 92% illuminated. One hour after sunset, the moon (13.8d, 97%) is about 16° up in the east. It is in Pisces. You’ll need a binocular to see the dim stars in the bright, moonlit sky.

2019, October 28: Welcome Back Venus!

Venus has been hiding in bright twilight since passing behind the sun. Southern hemisphere observers have been seeing the planet. Now this part of the solar system is easier to see for observers in the mid-northern latitudes.

To see it find a clear southwest horizon, about 30 minutes after sunset. The planet is low in the sky.  Each night it sets later.  Jupiter and Saturn are higher in the south-southwest.  Venus passes Jupiter next month and Saturn in December.

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2019, October 29: Venus and the Moon

Venus passed its superior conjunction on August 14, 2019, and slowly moved to the evening part of the sky. For several weeks, the visibility of Venus suffered from our poor view of the solar system near the sun after sunset for observers at mid-northern latitudes. Now in October, Venus starts to become visible. 

Venus climbs into bright evening twilight in the southwestern sky and is soon visible in darker skies.  It is headed toward a conjunction with Jupiter in late November. 

On October 27, Venus is 20° from the sun and sets in the southwest and about an hour after sunset.

The moon makes its first appearance with Venus on October 29, as illustrated above.  

Here’s what to look for (Find a clear southwest horizon and use a binocular to initially help you locate Venus and the moon.): Thirty minutes after sunset, the moon appears to the upper left of Venus, only 4° up in the southwest with bright Jupiter to the upper left of the pair. The moon is 1.8 days old, past its New phase, and 4.4% illuminated.

Let us know what you see in the comments below.  Click the link and subscribe to this web page.  Fall 2019 is an exciting time to observe Venus and the moon pass the bright evening planets.

2019, November 28: A Close Venus – Moon Conjunction

As Venus enters the evening sky and appears with Jupiter and Saturn, the moon passes Venus on the evening of November 28.  The moon appears 1.9° to the upper left of the Venus.

The chart above shows the scene about 45 minutes after sunset, looking southwest.  Locate an observing location free from obstructions, such as trees, houses, and buildings.  Venus is only 7° up in the southwest.

Use a binocular to note the thin crescent and that the night portion is gently illuminated by sunlight reflecting from Earth.  The moon is only 6% illuminated and 2.3 days past its New phase.

Venus is the brightest “star” in that part of the sky.  Jupiter is slightly dimmer and to the lower right of Venus.  Saturn is to the upper left of Venus.

Venus and the moon appear in the viewfinder of a camera with a 300 mm focal length lens.  A longer exposure reveals Earthshine on the moon.

2019, December 10: A Venus-Saturn Conjunction

Venus has a conjunction with Saturn on December 10, 2019.  Venus is beginning an appearance in the evening sky. The brilliant planet passed Jupiter on November 24, and began to approach Saturn.   This is the second conjunction with Saturn during the Ringed Wonder’s current apparition (appearance).  Watch Venus close the gap on Saturn and pass it on December 10.

The passing of these two planets is a slow moving show that occurs over several nights.  First, find a clear horizon in the southwest, free from trees, houses, buildings, and other possible obstructions.

In the charts that follow, several of them are displayed for a time interval after sunset.  Use local sources for the time of your sunset.  The U.S. Naval Observatory has an online calculator that displays a year of sunrises and sunsets.  Enter your state and city into Form A on the website. For readers outside the U.S., enter your longitude and latitude in Form B for your yearly table.  Click here.

2019, December 2: Venus is about 10 degrees to the lower right of Saturn.

On December 2, 45 minutes after sunset, shows Venus about 9° up in the southwest. It is about 10° to the lower right of Saturn.  On the next evening, December 3, the three evening planets – Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – are nearly equidistant tonight, but they are not along the same arc in the sky: Venus – Saturn, 8.6°; Venus – Jupiter, 9.7°.

2019, December 5, Venus passes the star Sigma Sagittarii. Venus is about midway between Jupiter and Saturn.

Venus continues to move eastward compared to the starry background toward Saturn.  On December 5,  Venus passes 1.9° to the upper right of Sigma Sagittarii.  Venus continues to close the gap on Saturn. Venus – Saturn separations until the conjunction: Dec 7, 4.3°, Dec 8, 3.3°; Dec 9, 2.4°.

Venus passes Saturn on December 10. At mid-twilight, Venus, over 11° up in the southwest, is 1.8° to the lower left of Saturn. Venus – Saturn gaps after the conjunction: Dec 11, 1.9°; Dec 12, 2.5°; Dec 13, 3.4°, Venus is to the upper left of Saturn; Dec 14, 4.4°, Dec 15, 5.4°.

Venus continues eastward against the starry background, moving farther away from Saturn. on December 19, one hour after sunset, Venus, 12° up in the southwest, is nearly 10° to the upper left of Saturn. Venus moves into Capricornus.

Venus-Saturn Conjunctions, 2021-2025

Conjunctions of Venus and Saturn are not rare, but they are infrequent enough for us to take notice.  The table below describes upcoming conjunctions of the two planets.

Date Location Separation Description
February 6, 2021 Southeast before sunrise. 0.5° This is a very difficult conjunction to see.  Venus is only 2° up 10 minutes before sunrise.
March 29, 2022 East-southeast before sunrise. 2.1° About an hour before sunrise, the pair is easy to see. Venus is to the upper left of Saturn.  Mars is nearby, 4.4° to the upper right of Saturn.  On the morning before the conjunction, the waning crescent moon joins the scene.
January 22, 2023 West-southwest after sunset. 0.3° The pair is 8° up one hour after sunset.  Venus is left of Saturn.  The waxing crescent moon is about 8° to the upper left of Venus on the evening before the conjunction
March 21, 2024 East before sunrise. 0.6° This is another difficult conjunction to view.  The pair is less than 5° up 10 minutes before sunrise.  Venus is to the upper right of Saturn.
January 20, 2025 Southwest after sunset. 2.2° This is an easily viewed conjunction.  Venus is to the upper left of Saturn.  The pair is over 20° up in the southwest 2 hours after sunset.