Tomorrow morning – January 9, 2016 – Venus and Saturn will all but kiss one another in the predawn/dawn sky. Imagine, if you can, one-sixth of the moon’s diameter. That’s about how far apart these two worlds will be from one another on the great dome of sky, featuring the closest conjunction of two planets since March 22, 2013. Get up early and look eastward for these two lovebirds flitting next to each other in the ballroom of early morn.
Venus is by far the brighter of these two planets. Venus, the third-brightest celestial body after the sun and moon, outshines Saturn by nearly 70 times. That’s in spite of the fact that Saturn beams as brilliantly as a 1st-magnitude star.
You should be able to see Saturn in Venus’ glare, but – if for some reason you have difficulty – try viewing these two worlds through binoculars or a low-powered telescope.
Think photo opportunity, as well!
After their conjunction, watch for Saturn (and the star Antares) to climb upward in the January 2016 morning sky while Venus falls downward. Starting around January 20, as darkness first begins to give way to morning dawn, draw an imaginary line from Saturn through Venus to spot Mercury, the solar system’s innermost planet, near the horizon.
At that juncture you’ll have the opportunity to view all five visible planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – in the same sky together. That hasn’t happened since 2005.
Bottom line: Enjoy the close conjunction of Venus and Saturn on the morning of January 9, 2016. It serves as a fitting prelude to the five-planet morning spectacle from January 20 to February 20, 2016!