On Saturday, 9 January at 3:57am GMT, magnitude -4.0 Venus passes just 5 arcminutes — less than one tenth of a degree — north of magnitude +0.5 Saturn. While the instant of closest approach will be missed by observers in the extreme west of Europe as Venus and Saturn will still be below the horizon, by 7am GMT the ‘double-planet’ will be high enough to be glimpsed with the naked eye very low to the southeast from the UK.
By 7am GMT the gap between these two prominent planets will have widened to 9¼ arcminutes — still less than a third of the apparent diameter of the full Moon. Observers with motorised equatorial or GoTo mounts can track the rising pair in the same eyepiece field at magnifications up to 175x until Saturn fades into daylight.
As always, whenever observing in daylight please take extreme care lest the Sun enters the field of view of your telescope or finder with disastrous consequences for your eyesight or anyone else who accidentally looks at it.
Inside the magazine
Find out more about what’s up in the night sky in the January 2016 edition of Astronomy Now.
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