Over the next several days the inner planet Venus passes by the outer planet Saturn as both move eastward in their respective orbits around the Sun. On the mornings of the 8th and 9th the conjunction between these two planets will be the closest when Venus comes within about 0.08o from Saturn. They will be the closest at 4 UT on January 9th so how close they will appear to you depends on your local time. From my CST (UT-6) time zone the closest the two planets will appear will be about 0.3o.
This animated graphic shows the two planets on a daily basis from January 6th to the 12th. In this simulated view through 7×50 binoculars Saturn is the dot in the center while Venus is the larger dot moving past. Venus shines at -4.0 apparent magnitude compared with Saturn’s 0.5 apparent magnitude. From the animation or real life you can see that both planets are moving eastward and it is obvious that Venus moves much more quickly. Coincidentally, during this time period both planets have almost the same apparent size with Venus at 14″ and Saturn 15″.
In reality they are not actually that close as with any conjunction it is a line of sight situation. Looking down on our solar system, were that possible, you would see that both Venus and Saturn are in the same direction as we look out from Earth.
On the mornings of the 6thand 7th the thin waning crescent Moon passes by Venus and Saturn making for a nice view through any optical aid (magnifying type of course!!)
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.