Find a location that offers you an unobstructed view of the southeast about an hour before sunrise over the next…
Find a location that offers you an unobstructed view of the southeast about an hour before sunrise over the next week to see dazzling venus close to the horizon. Look carefully and you’ll see that the brightest planet is not alone. Around 6:30 am GMT on November 15, Venus finds just 1¼ degrees to the lower left of first-magnitude star Spica in the constellation of Virgo. What’s the minimum magnification that you need to see the planet’s crescent shape? An illustration by Ade Ashford.
For the early risers among you, there is an unmistakable planetary visitor currently gracing the dawn sky. Having passed inferior conjunction between Earth and the Sun on October 26, Venus passed into the morning sky and has spent the intervening time slowing drawing away from the solar glare.
Unmistakably the brightest object in the dawn sky, magnitude -4.5 Venus presently rises more than two hours before the Sun for observers in the British Isles and may be found in the constellation Virgo low in the southeast an hour before sunrise.
On the UK morning of Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 6:30 am GMT, Venus lies just 1¼ degrees from first-magnitude star Spica , Virgo’s principal luminary. Viewed through a telescope at this instant, Venus appears as an 11 percent illuminated crescent exceeding 52 arcseconds in diameter and lies 47.8 million miles (29.7 million miles) from Earth.
Owing to the planet’s large angular size at this time, a typical 10x binocular is sufficient to glimpse Venus’ crescent. What’s the minimum optical aid with which you can see it? Note that between now and dawn on November 20, Venus lies 2 degrees or less from Spica, so be sure to make the most of any early morning viewing opportunities.