It currently pays to be an early riser if you wish to see some spectacular planetary activity. Even casual skywatchers cannot fail to notice dazzling Venus hanging like a lantern, brighter than any other natural nighttime object except the Moon, low in the south-southeast at the start of nautical twilight around 90 minutes before sunrise in the UK (see our interactive Almanac for local times).
Magnitude -4.4 Venus presently lies in the constellation of Libra, moving into Scorpius on 9 January. The planet has a disc almost 25 arcseconds across and currently appears exactly half illuminated — just like a miniature first or last quarter Moon (depending on your telescope view). At this time, a telescope magnification of just 75× enlarges Venus to the same size as the Moon appears to the unaided eye.
Venus attains its greatest elongation of 46° 57′ 22″ west of the Sun at 04:54 UTC (4:54am GMT) on 6 January. As seen from the heart of the British Isles, the brightest planet presently rises in the east-southeast close to 4:30am GMT some four hours before the Sun. At 7am GMT on 6 January, Venus lies 0.675 astronomical units, or 100.9 million kilometres from Earth, which is about 260 times farther than the Moon.