Venus Passes Between Earth And The Sun

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“Evening Star” or “Morning Star”

Much brighter than any of the actual stars, Venus does not twinkle, but shines with a constant, silvery light. Venus is called the “morning star” when it rises ahead of the Sun and the “evening star” when it sets after the Sun. Some ancient astronomers actually thought they were seeing two different celestial bodies. They named the morning star after Phosphorus, the harbinger of light, and the evening star for Hesperus, the son of Atlas.

The cycle of Venus

There is a highly noticeable rhythm in the motion of Venus from an Earth-centered perspective. After the eight-year period, Venus, the Sun, the Earth and the stars are again in the same relative positions. As the Earth goes around the Sun 8 times, Venus goes around the Sun 13 times, and traces out the pretty curve. This curve is called the pentagram of Venus, because it has 5 ‘lobes’ where Venus makes its closest approach to Earth (perigee).

Inferior Conjunction

On June 3, 2020, Venus will rush between Earth and the Sun. The phenomenon is called the planet’s inferior (or lower) conjunction. It happens five times in each of the cycles of Venus and takes place at around the same time with the perigee. At this inferior conjunction, Venus will lie about 0°29' above the Sun.

The Phases of Venus

The phases of Venus are the variations of lighting seen on the planet’s surface, similar to lunar phases. The first recorded observations of them are thought to have been telescopic observations by Galileo Galilei in 1610.

The Horns of Venus

An important phenomenon related to Venus is the lengthening of its horns in crescent phase near inferior conjunction, when the arc of Venus’s crescent extends more than 180 degrees. At very small elongations, the horns can even join to form a continuous ring, called “the annular phase” of Venus.

Safety note

Inferior conjunction can be seen in the daytime, but on June 3, 2020, Venus will lie too close to the Sun for safe observation. Be extremely careful in trying to find Venus near the Sun, as it can cause serious eye damage.

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