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Moon and Venus
A beautiful trio highlights the eastern sky at dawn tomorrow. Two of its members are easy to see, while the third takes a little extra effort.
The bright members are the crescent Moon and Venus, the “morning star.” And the faint member is M44, the Beehive star cluster. It’s close above the Moon and Venus, but you’ll need binoculars to pick it out. Under dark skies, you might see a couple of dozen tiny stars packed close together — like bees buzzing around their hive.
Venus will continue its run as the morning star through the end of this year and into next year. For the next couple of months, it’ll stay at roughly the same height above the horizon at the same time before sunrise — roughly a third of the way up the sky.
But its location along the horizon will shift from due east to southeast — and for the same reason that the Sun and Moon slide along the horizon. As Earth circles around the Sun, our viewing angle to the Sun, Moon, and planets changes. That makes them “move” north and south across the sky. As a result, they rise and set in different directions at different times of year.
Venus is moving toward the Sun in our sky right now and will drop from sight in the Sun’s glare in January. It’ll pass behind the Sun in March. It will return to view around the first of May — this time in the evening sky — where it’ll spend the rest of the year.
Tomorrow: a star system that’s packed with planets.
Script by Damond Benningfield