The brilliant Venus now rules the evening sky. Have you already seen it? On March 24, 2020, our sister planet will reach its peak visibility. Here’s what you need to know about this celestial event to get the most out of it.
Venus’ greatest elongation: What does this mean?
The third brightest object in the night sky reaches its greatest eastern elongation of around 46 degrees from the Sun on Tuesday evening, March 24. At this moment, Venus appears to be at its maximum angular distance from the Sun and makes its finest apparition in the sky. These apparitions take place once every 1.6 years either in the morning or evening sky, depending on whether Venus lies to the east of the Sun or the west. When the planet lies to the east of the Sun, it is visible in the evening sky. When it lies to the west, it can be seen before sunrise.
How and where to see
Venus’ maximum eastern elongation is an excellent time to admire the dazzling planet in all its splendor. After sunset on March 24, the sparkling planet will be so conspicuous that you will not need binoculars or other optical aids to view it. Venus will be shining brightly at mag -4.4 high above the western horizon. For best results, determine the exact rise and set times of Venus for your location with the ‘Time Machine’ feature of the stargazing app Star Walk 2 and get ready to enjoy a stunning view. Several days around the elongation are also good for viewing the planet after dusk. Observers with acute eyesight might even see Venus in a daytime sky, while everyone will be able to view the planet as “the evening star” shortly after sunset.
This apparition of Venus favors the Northern Hemisphere, as the planet tends to stay out longer after sunset in case of the proximity of its eastern elongation with the day of the spring equinox. Observers in the Southern Hemisphere experienced the autumnal equinox on March 20. When maximum elongation of Venus takes place around the autumnal equinox, the planet is also visible in the sky, but it is not so prominent.
Observing Venus in 2020
The second greatest (western) elongation of Venus in 2020 will occur on August 13. The planet will adorn the sky before sunrise. If you want to be notified of this event and learn about other spectacular celestial events, turn on the notifications in the menu of the Star Walk 2 app. Choose to get alerts 5/15/30/60/120 minutes before astronomical events like meteor showers, eclipses, planet elongations, full moon, etc.
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