Venus and Saturn Meet in the Morning Sky

Venus and Saturn move within 1/2 of a degree of each other on the morning of January 9, 2016.

Venus and Saturn move within 1/2 of a degree of each other in the southeastern predawn sky on the morning of January 9, 2016.

Look to the southeastern sky before dawn on January 9 to see Venus and Saturn make a close approach to each other before sunrise. Venus is the brighter of the two, about 60x brighter than Saturn. The two planets make their closest approach at about 4h Universal Time when they are just 1/10 of a degree apart. This timing favors observers in Europe and Africa. As dawn arrives in the Americas and Australia and New Zealand, the planets will be slightly farther apart but still quite striking. Binoculars will give a good view of the two planets, and a telescope at low-to-medium power will give an excellent view of the face of Venus, which is about 77% illuminated, and the rings and brightest moons of Saturn.

Saturn and Venus are about 6º northeast of the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Antares and Saturn are about the same brightness, but the star is much more reddish-orange and may twinkle hard in the warming morning sky.

The two planets will diverge in the coming days and weeks. Venus is moving quickly eastward each day back towards the Sun, while Saturn wanders more slowly eastward against the background stars. All the major planets, the Moon, and Sun are usually located along the ecliptic in one of the 12 constellations of the zodiac, but right now Venus and Saturn are found in the constellation Ophiuchus, the 13th constellation along the ecliptic, but which is not part of the zodiac as defined by astrologers.

 

 

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