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Venus, Spica before sunrise November 2

The dazzling planet Venus pairs up with Spica, the constellation Virgo’s brightest star, before sunrise on November 2, 2017. Venus ranks as the third-brightest celestial body to light up the heavens, after the sun and moon. Spica, shining at 1st-magnitude brightness, is one of the sky’s most brilliant stars. Nonetheless, this star pales next to Venus, which outshines Spica by about about 90 times. You may well need binoculars to view Spica in the same binocular field with Venus in the November 2 morning sky.

Venus’s rising time varies around the world. At mid-northern latitudes, Venus comes up more than one hour before the sun. At and around the equator, Venus rises about one hour before sunrise. South of the equator, Venus comes up less than one hour before the sun. Click here for a recommended sky almanac that lets you know when Venus rises into your sky, and click here if you want to know when Spica comes up. Of course, there won’t be a great deal of difference between the rising times of Venus and Spica tomorrow, on November 2.

Around the world this month, Venus will be sinking toward the glare of sunrise day by day, whereas Spica will be climbing away from the glow of sunrise. Venus will disappear in the sun’s glare by late November or December; but Spica will rise some 2 hours earlier by the month’s end than in early November.

By the end of November, Spica will rise well before dawn’s first light. Also, Spica will be in conjunction with the planet Mars in the predawn sky. You can actually see Mars in the morning sky all through November, if you’re up when the sky is still dark (75 to 90 minutes before sunrise). Mars is easily visible to the unaided eye in the predawn sky.

Spica is somewhat more than two times brighter than Mars in early November. Mars will brighten slightly throughout the month; and by the time that Spica and Mars are in conjunction on November 29, Spica will be a touch less than twice the brightness of Mars.

If you miss seeing Venus and Spica before sunrise tomorrow, on November 2, try again the day after. Venus and Spica should remain within a single binocular field of view for the next several days.

Bruce McClure