From January 29th to February 2nd, the Moon will move across the morning sky past Jupiter and then Venus on it’s way to New Moon. The Moon will be a progressively thinner crescent as the days progress. A very, very close approach of Venus and the Moon happens on Jan 31st as well.
Venus and Moon Near Approach (Appulse)
On January 31st, the Moon will pass between the two planets. Venus, the brightest of the two, will be to the east with Jupiter to the west. Best of all, the Moon will pass very close to Venus on that day.
On January 31st at 17:37 UTC, the Moon will make a close approach to Venus. They will pass by each other separated by only 0° 05’. Viewers in Alaska, Hawaii, the western Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia are positioned best to see the closest approach.
It’s possible to see Venus in the daytime sky, if one knows where to look. Follow Venus and the Moon as sunrise approaches. Once the sun is up, you should be able to still see the Moon. Look just a little north of the Moon to find Venus.
Use an object like a building to block the sun if there’s too much glare. If you’ve been following the Moon and Venus and the air is clear, it’s quite likely you’ll be able to see it even though it’s daytime!
Conjunction vs. Appulse
Some people might refer to this as a “conjunction”. But when two celestial objects appear very close to each other in the sky, this is actually called an “appulse”. A conjunction is when two celestial objects pass by each other and have the same right ascension or the same ecliptic longitude. That doesn’t seem like much difference, huh? It’s so similar that I bet only astronomers get pedantic about it…
Don’t Forget Saturn!
In addition to these two spectacular planets, Saturn will be making it’s way out of the glare of the Sun. It will be low on the eastern horizon and climbing higher with each day.
And the fun doesn’t end January 31st. On February 1st, the Moon has moved between Saturn as Venus. They make a curving line across the sky. More so if you include the bright star Antares, which is a little to the west of Jupiter.
You’ll easily stop Antares – it looks a lot like Mars. Its name in Greek means “Opponent to Mars” or “Rival to Mars”. It’s name so because of it’s bright red color.
The next morning, the Moon has now passed Saturn and is a thin crescent very near the horizon. If you can find a clear view to the east, it should look amazing! This should look great with a 35 mm lens on full frame (24 mm for a crop sensor).
Need Info for Your Location?
Do you want to know the times and visibility for your location? Then check out In-The-Sky.org They are a great resource for planning all your astronomical related activities! Here’s a link for to their page for this close approach of Venus and the Moon.