Venus as a Morning Star, 2015-2016


This appearance of Venus has ended.

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A recent appearance (2012) of Venus with other planets in the morning sky.

Venus appears in the morning sky after its spectacular Epoch Conjunction with Jupiter in the summer evening sky in 2015.  As a Morning Star, Venus appears with three other planets during mid-October 2015.  This article describes the appearance of Venus and highlights its appearance with the planets, bright stars and the moon.  Bookmark this page and return here for photographic updates as well as revisit the main blog page for images of the planets and the moon.

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Venus revolves around the sun closer to the sun than our planet.  Venus completes  a solar orbit in nearly 225 days.  Since our planet moves during this period, Venus catches our planet and moves between it and the sun (inferior conjunction) every 584 days.  Because of the sun’s brilliance, Venus is invisible during this time, unless it is precisely aligned with Earth and the sun so that from our view, Venus appears to move across the  face of the sun as it did in 2012.  The image below shows the most recent transit.

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While Venus passes through inferior conjunction frequently, the next time it appears to cross directly in front of the sun is 2117.

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After inferior conjunction Venus vaults into the morning sky.  Within 2 weeks of inferior conjunction, Venus rises 80 minutes before the sun.  Within a month it rises nearly 3 hours before the sun!  This bright planet easily outshines all the other stars and planets in the sky and it’s brilliance in unmistakable.  (The chart of above is made from sunrise data and Venus rise data for Chicago, Illinois, provided by the US Naval Observatory.  The chart shows Venus’ rising time compared to the sun. )

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As Venus moves into the morning sky it grows in brightness until September 21, when it reaches it maximum intensity.  At this time it appears over 20 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.  The chart above shows the relative positions of Earth, Venus and sun at Venus’ greatest brightness.  The green symbol on the previous Venus rising chart indicates when the sun rises on this date.

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In another month (October 26), Venus reaches it greatest separation (greatest elongation) from the sun, rising nearly 4 hours before the sun.  The yellow symbol on the Venus rising chart above shows Venus’ rising time.

As if disappearing around the curve of a race track, Venus begins a long, slow trip to the far side of the sun from our view.  Its brightness fades slightly, but still remains the brightest object that looks like a star.   As the new year (2016) opens, Venus still rises nearly 3 hours before the sun.  By late March, it rises about 30 minutes before the sun and in bright twilight as it does a slow fade into the sun’s brightness.

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Venus disappears into the sun’s glare and reaches superior conjunction on June 6, 2016.

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The chart above shows the rising points of Venus and the sun along the eastern horizon.  As Venus moves from inferior conjunction is rises south of the sun along the horizon. Beginning August 31, Venus rises north (left) of the sun along the horizon.  Venus’ rising point remains north of the sun until January 14, 2016 when it again rises south (right) of the sun on the eastern horizon.  It remains south of the sun’s rising point until superior conjunction.  Notice that the sun’s rising point changes daily from the tilt of our planet.  It rises within 15 angular degrees of southeast at the winter solstice.  (The Venus and the sun rising points provided in data from the US Naval Observatory.)

As Venus appears in the morning sky, it appears with planets, bright stars, and the moon.  Interesting appearances are noted below.

Stars and Planets

  • Mars, 09/03/15ven_mars_150903
  • Regulus, 10/09/15ven_jup_mars_lune_151008-09
  • Mercury, 10/16/15 — widely separated (28 degrees)

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  • Jupiter, 10/25/15

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  • Mars, 11/03/15 (Yes, Mars has two appearances with Venus)

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  • Spica, 11/30/15

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  • Zubenelgenubi, 12/18/15

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  • Antares, 01/08/16
  • Saturn, 01/09/16

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  • Mercury, 04/06 (difficult) — Venus is within 6 degrees of the sun and rises only 16 minutes before the sun.)

Moon

  • September 10, 2015 (3.2 degrees separation)DSC02720
  • October 8, 2015 (4 d)ven_jup_mars_lune_151008-09
  • November 7, 2015 (1.5 d)DSC02930.JPG
  • December 7, 2015 (2.5 d)

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  • January 6, 2016 (6 d), January 7, 2016 (6.4 d)

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  • February 6, 2016 (4.7 d)

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  • March 7, 2016 (3.1 d)
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3 Responses to “Venus as a Morning Star, 2015-2016”

  1. Cynthia Says:

    Thanks!! Just getting into stars age 61. The exquisite sight at 5am took me to search internet for star/planet info. Found jumble of different answers/opinions, then YOU. Now I’m hooked! My dad loved the skies, tried to inspire me…56 yrs later I suddenly am!! Appreciate your help, time and intelligent/interesting site.c

  2. Frank Blatchford Says:

    What star am I seeing in the northeast sky at 0500 on Jan. 2, 2016?

    • Jeffrey L. Hunt Says:

      The star is Vega, part of the constellation Lyra the Harp. The star rises early and by evening it is low in the northwest after sunset. Along with Deneb (Cygnus) and Altair (Aquila), the trio is known as the Summer Triangle, an informal name for this large shape. The triangle is in the sky all night during early summer. This time of year, the triangle starts the night in the northwest. They set early in the evening. By 6 a.m. as the sky begins to brighten from morning twilight, the triangle is rising in the northeast. Vega is the third brightest star visible from mid-northern latitudes, following Sirius and Arcturus.


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