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Venus dazzles at dawn, farthest west of the Sun on 6 January 2019

5 Jan 2019, 17:49 UTC
Venus dazzles at dawn, farthest west of the Sun on 6 January 2019
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Brilliant planet Venus attains its greatest elongation almost 47° west of the Sun at dawn in the UK on Sunday, 6 January. Find a location that offers you a view down to the southeast horizon around 7am GMT and you may catch a glimpse of Jupiter too. The planetary duo is currently 14 degrees apart – about one-and-a-half spans of a fist at arm’s length – but drawing nearer for a close conjunction on 22 January. AN graphic by Ade Ashford.It currently pays to be an early riser if you wish to see some spectacular planetary activity. Even casual skywatchers cannot fail to notice dazzling Venus hanging like a lantern, brighter than any other natural nighttime object except the Moon, low in the south-southeast at the start of nautical twilight around 90 minutes before sunrise in the UK (see our interactive Almanac for local times).
Magnitude -4.4 Venus presently lies in the constellation of Libra, moving into Scorpius on 9 January. The planet has a disc almost 25 arcseconds across and currently appears exactly half illuminated — just like a miniature first or last quarter Moon (depending on your telescope view). At this time, a telescope magnification of just 75× ...

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