Jupiter Stalks Venus in the Morning Sky

If you're an early riser, you probably noticed Venus sparkling high in pre-dawn sky some time during the last few months of 2007. Venus has been getting lower and lower every morning throughout January. But it's still more than 10° (one fist-width) above the eastern horizon a half hour before sunrise if you live at mid-northern latitudes. And the planet is so brilliant that it appears spectacular even after the sky has grown so bright that you can read by its light.

Looking southeast in early dawn
Bent like a bow, the crescent Moon points to Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets, in conjunction on the morning of Friday February 1st.
Sky & Telescope diagram
Just a few days ago, I noticed that another bright light had appeared lower-left of Venus. This is Jupiter, the fourth-brightest object in the sky after the Sun, Moon, and Venus. Jupiter is dazzling in any other context, but it appears almost feeble next to Venus's overwhelming brilliance.

Every morning the view changes radically. Venus is getting rapidly lower and Jupiter higher, with the two approaching each other at a rate of 1° per day. It's quite a show!

At their closest approach, on the morning of February 1st, the two planets will be slightly over ½° apart. That's close enough to fit easily in a single telescopic field at 50×. And at that magnification, you can easily see the disks of both planets, together with at least three of Jupiter's four brightest moons. (Io passes in front of the planet at 5:52 a.m. PST, and will probably be invisible after that.)

Make sure that you take a look if the sky is even halfway clear. You don't even have to get up all that early — 6 a.m. should give you plenty of time at most locations.

11 thoughts on “Jupiter Stalks Venus in the Morning Sky

  1. LS

    I live in Western Washington, and when I checked the interactive sky chart, Venus and Jupiter were very low on the horizon. How am I supposed to view this spectacle?
      
    Find your local time of sunrise using our online almanac. (Enter your location, and make sure the Daylight Saving Time box is unchecked.) Go out and look low in the southeast about 30 or 45 minutes before sunrise. — Alan MacRobert

  2. Steve C.

    “If you’re an early riser, you probably noticed Venus sparkling high in pre-dawn sky some time during the last few months of 2006.”

    Was that supposed to be 2007?

    Tony answers: Gack! Yes, of course. Fixed now — and thanks.

  3. Jack

    Just got in from watching Venus and Jupiter together. How often do you see that? They just barely fit in my FOV with a 60 mm refractor & a 25 mm eyepiece. Got up around 5 AM.

  4. NS

    I saw Venus and Jupiter close together this morning (Feb. 1) a little after 6 AM, from near Honolulu. Also the waning moon was not far from Antares. Very nice sights!

  5. Bob G

    Using 25 x 100 binoculars
    Obviously no difficulty with
    both being in FOV
    Certainly worth the early morning
    effort here in Long Island, NY
    Great show !

  6. Gary

    Hi, I’m in Huntington Beach, CA and I was watching from 5am to
    about 6:15am and though they were close, I never saw what the others saw?????
    I was using my Giant bino’s 25×100.
    The pic you show in the magazine shows them as if they are touching, I however only saw them at about 1/2 a finger apart at arms length?

    I’m bummed! Though it was cool with the waning moon with the
    veriable red star next to the moon, and 3 moons around Jupiter.

  7. Gary

    Gary from Huntington Beach again. On I believe Thursday last, I
    was viewing the ISS and though normally it appears to look pretty much like a regular satellite, on this early evening it
    was almost as bright as Venus and seemed to be traveling much slower. Any idea what would give it these 2 different appearances?

    Thanks!

  8. erpascual

    I was up early dawn on Feb.1,2,3 and 4 to see the conjunction of these 3 heavenly bodies in Quezon City Philippines. Feb.1 at 5:30 no clouds, the closest bet.Venus and Jupiter. Feb.2 and 3, storm clouds over the Metro. But on Feb.4, the 3 were up there bright as they were in the southeastern skies at 5:30 a.m.26 deg. fr. the horizon forming a triangle.I even had a chance to look at the craters of the crescent moon with my 2 inch scope.
    That’s cool.

  9. Monika Maez

    I live in Arizona and the night skies are always beautiful here. My husband leaves for work at 5:30 am so I’m always watching the pre-dawn skies. Venus is always an awesome sight, but right now the view is spectacular. A couple of mornings ago I saw Jupiter and Venus with the tiniest sliver of the wanning moon. I knew I liked Arizona for a reason.

  10. Denise

    On Thursday morning around 6:30AM E.S.T I was driving to work and was in awe of these two magnificent planets in the Southeastern sky in Atlanta, GA. I wanted to pull off the Interstate and watch until the sky grew so bright I could no longer see them. Awesome!

  11. Jeff Stevens

    Poor weather conditions here in the UK prevented me from seeing these two at their closest approach. However, I finally managed to catch sight of them on 4th February. I peered out of the window to see a lovely clear sky, and spotted Venus and Jupiter, just peeking above the rooftops on the south-east horizon. I watched on and off between 7:00am local time to 7:30am, when I finally lost sight of Jupiter in the brightness of daybreak. It was a really beautiful spectacle to watch, and a great way to start the day.

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