Back in April, Venus passed in front of the Pleiades open cluster in Taurus; and during the first half of July 2020 the planet will be near mag. +0.8 Aldebaran, passing through Taurus’s other famous cluster, the Hyades.
It will be visible all month, with the morning of 12 July offering a close conjunction with Aldebaran and 17 July primed for a photo opportunity with the Moon
Venus has been re-emerging from its alignment with the Sun on 3 June, but unlike its evening appearance at the start of 2020, at the moment its altitude is poor before sunrise. In order to spot it, you’ll need a flat east-northeast horizon.
This won’t be as dramatic as the Pleiades crossing in April, however, because the Hyades will be low and set against the dawn twilight.
Binoculars may show some of the brighter cluster stars as the Hyades rises above the horizon, and this could be an interesting challenge for a camera setup.
Aldebaran should definitely be bright enough to be seen; Venus will be closest to it, 57 arcminutes away, on the morning of 12 July.
On the morning of 17 July, Venus, Aldebaran, the Hyades and a 13%-lit waning crescent Moon will appear together low in the east-northeast from around 03:00 BST (02:00 UT).
If you’re planning to photograph the scene, don’t forget that the Pleiades are also close by, located 14° northwest of Aldebaran.
Given a good flat horizon, it should be possible to frame them all using a 60mm or shorter lens fitted to a non-full frame camera, or if using a full frame camera, a 100mm or shorter lens.
By month’s end, most of Taurus will be visible in relative darkness higher above the horizon but Venus will be further from the Hyades. On 31 July it will be positioned 2.5° southwest of mag. +3.0 Zeta (ζ) Tauri.
Pete Lawrence is an experienced astronomer and a co-host of The Sky at Night. This guide originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine.