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Venus Conjunctions with other Planets, 2022

Moon near Venus Dates, Jan to Aug 2022

The Venus Evening Apparition of 2021-22


The Venus Morning Apparition

of 2022

by Martin J. Powell

 

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Where is Venus now? This star map shows the path of Venus through the zodiac during the 2022 morning apparition. Click for full-size picture, 45 KB (Copyright Martin J Powell, 2021)

The path of Venus through the zodiac constellations during the planet's morning apparition in 2022 (click on thumbnail for the full-size image, 45 KB). A version with constellation labels can be seen here (59 KB). Constellation names are shown in their three-letter abbreviated format - the full names are listed here. Zodiac constellations are labelled in green and non-zodiac constellations in grey. The numbers along the sides of the chart (Right Ascension and Declination) are co-ordinates of celestial longitude and latitude which are used to locate the position of a celestial body in the night sky. A print-friendly version is available here (21 KB).

Having passed through inferior conjunction on January 8th 2022 (when it was positioned directly between the Earth and the Sun), Venus swiftly enters the dawn sky as a 'Morning Star' around mid-month, rising in the ESE shortly before sunrise. At the commencement of the apparitionVenus rises in twilight across the inhabited world, not attaining any significant altitude (angle above the local horizon) before disappearing from view in the brightening sky. The planet is moving retrograde (East to West) against the background stars at this time, positioned in central Northern Sagittarius, the Archer, the Southernmost constellation of the zodiac.

2 0 2 2  January

Orbitally, Venus is positioned at a relatively close 0.2722 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Earth (40.7 million kms or 25.3 million statute miles). During January the planet's solar elongation (angular distance from the Sun) increases rapidly from 10° West on January 14th to 20° West only one week later as it skirts the boundary of Sagittarius with Scutum, the Shield, located just to the North.

As it emerges from the dawn twilight, telescopes pointed towards Venus show a large, slender, Eastward-facing crescent, around 5% illuminated (phase = 0.05). The planet's apparent diameter measures around 56" (56 arcseconds, where 1 arcsecond = 1/60th of an arcminute or 1/3600th of a degree) and it shines at an apparent magnitude of -4.3. The crescent appears greatly disturbed by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere, being split into the rainbow colours by an effect called dispersion (an example of how dispersion appears through a telescope can be seen here, along with other phases of the planet). Venus' large apparent diameter also means that the crescent can be glimpsed in the twilight by observers using binoculars, its apparently tiny crescent facing down towards the horizon. The planet's apparent diameter will shrink throughout the morning apparition, as it slowly recedes from the Earth in space.

Whilst Venus is pulling away from the Sun, dedicated telescopic observers begin their search for the elusive Ashen Light, which is a faint glowing of the night side of Venus through its thick clouds. The phenomenon is believed to be caused either by the planet's surface glowing red hot (due to its extremely high surface temperature) or due to electrical activity in its dense atmosphere. Observers searching for the Light will normally use ultraviolet and/or infrared filters in order to help reveal it, an occulting bar often being used to block the bright, visually-intrusive crescent from view. Observers in Equatorial and Northern Tropical latitudes are best placed to view the Light at this early stage of the apparition due to the higher altitude of Venus above the horizon before sunrise.

A crescent Venus sketched by Paul G Abel in June 2020 (Image: Paul G Abel/ASOD)A Crescent Venus sketched by Paul G Abel (Leicester, UK) in June 2020 (click on the thumbnail for a larger version, 14 KB). The planet was in the early stage of its 2020-21 morning apparition, when it was 12% illuminated and almost 48" across. Abel used an 8-inch (203 mm) Newtonian reflector telescope at 67x magnification (Image: Paul G Abel / ALPO-Japan)

The planet Mars, now in the early stage of its 2021-23 apparition, is the only planet to accompany Venus in the morning sky in mid-January. Over the coming two weeks the pair rapidly close in on one another, initially heading in opposite directions against the background stars, with Mars moving at the faster rate. Venus is positioned several degrees to the North of the Red Planet throughout the period. Mars - currently shining at a rather dim magnitude of +1.4 - is positioned 24º to the WSW of Venus at midnight UT on the 14th; it is 18º.5 to the WSW of Venus on the 19th and 14º to the WSW of it on the 24th.

At 0548 UT on January 23rd Venus reaches its closest orbital position to the Sun, known as the perihelion, the first of two such occasions that the planet will pass this point during its 2022 apparition. At perihelion Venus is positioned at a distance of  0.7184 AU (107.4 million kms or 66.8 million statute miles) from the Sun.

During the latter half of January Venus is positioned around 10º North of Sagittarius' famous asterism, the Teapot, which comprises eight stars of third-magnitude or brighter (although since the constellation is only now beginning to emerge into the dawn sky, they are only visible to observers South of about latitude 25º South). On January 25th Venus passes 10º.8 North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'phi' Sgr (Phi Sagittarii, mag. +3.1), located at the top of the Teapot's handle.

On January 29th Venus' Eastward motion ceases as it reaches its Western stationary point on the Sagittarius-Scutum border, Mars being positioned some 10º.5 away to the South-west. Thereafter, Venus begins direct motion (West to East) which it will continue through to the end of the apparition. Venus reaches a solar elongation of 30° West on January 30th.

At the end of the month the planet Mercury (mag. +1.7), in North-eastern Sagittarius, emerges into the dawn sky at the start of its first morning apparition of 2022. This particular Mercurian apparition favours Southern hemisphere observers, where the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun, which the Moon and planets follow very closely) forms a steep angle to the Eastern horizon at dawn at this time of year. Over the next fortnight Mars, Venus and Mercury will appear as a triangle in the Archer, the latter planet pulling away from the pair and stretching the triangle Eastwards from around mid-February.

Mercury's arrival in the dawn sky heralds the first of two paired apparitions between Venus and Mercury which take place during the 2022 apparition (a paired apparition being when the two planets are visible together for a prolonged period of time, either in the morning sky or the evening sky). This particular paired apparition lasts from the end of January through to mid-March and it favours Southern hemisphere observers. The waning crescent Moon passes to the South of Venus and Mercury between January 30th and 31st.

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2 0 2 2  February

Now moving direct, Venus passes 10º.7 North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'phi' Sgr again on February 2nd.

For observers situated at high and mid-Northern latitudes, February sees the first of two altitude 'peaks' which take place during Venus' 2022 apparition (the other being in late July/early August). In early February at 60° North latitude, Venus rises in the South-east some 2¼ hours before the Sun, attaining an altitude of 8° at 30 minutes before sunrise; here the planet is seen in twilight throughout the period. At 50° North in mid-February the planet rises 2¼ hours before the Sun, reaching an altitude of 13° in the South-east at 30 minutes before sunrise. From the Equator (latitude 0°) and latitude 35° South the planet also rises 2¼ hours ahead of the Sun, but at one half-hour before sunrise it reaches an altitude of 25º in the ESE (at the Equator) and 21° high in the East (at 35° South).

Mercury, having brightened one whole magnitude to +0.7 since its first dawn appearance, reaches its own Western stationary point on February 4th, positioned 13º.3 to the East of Venus and 17º to the ENE of Mars. Venus and Mercury come closest to each other on February 5th, when they are 13º apart.

Venus passes 9°.7 North of the Archer's second-brightest star Nunki (Greek lower-case letter 'sigma' Sgr or Sigma Sagittarii, mag. +2.0), another star on the Teapot's handle, on February 10th.

Venus attains its greatest brilliancy for this apparition (magnitude -4.6) on February 12th, positioned in Northern Sagittarius. The planet's greatest brilliancy occurs when the percentage of the illuminated portion of the disk (phase) and its angular size combine to best visual effect. In this particular apparition this takes place when the planet is 26% illuminated (phase = 0.26), its apparent diameter is 40".8 and it is 40° West of the Sun. On the same day Venus, Mars and Mercury (mag. +0.2) form their closest triangular grouping, with Mercury at the apex of the triangle, located 13°.9 to the ESE of Venus and 14°.1 to the ENE of Mars; Venus and Mars are separated by 6°.7The triangle points East towards the neighbouring constellation of Capricornus, the Sea-Goat.

Venus passes 13°.1 North of Ascella (Greek lower-case letter 'zeta' Sgr or Zeta Sagittarii, mag. +2.6), at the base of the Teapot's handle, on February 13th.

At 0211 UT on February 14th Venus and Mars meet in the first of six planetary conjunctions which take place during the planet's 2022 apparition  A planetary conjunction occurs whenever any two planets attain the same celestial longitude, such that they appear close together in the night sky. In this instance the pair are separated by a sizeable apparent distance of 6°.5 - so wide that many might not consider it a true conjunction as such. The conjunction is well placed for Southern hemisphere observers but poorly placed for those at higher Northern latitudes. Over the next four months Venus will pass all four of the distant Solar System planets; for more details, refer to the planetary conjunctions section below.

On February 15th Venus completes its pasage of the Teapot when it passes 10°.9 North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'tau' Sgr (Tau Sagittarii, mag. +3.3), the last of the four bright stars in the handle. Mercury (mag. +0.1) enters Capricornus on the same day, positioned 14°.9 to the East of Venus. Mercury attains its greatest elongation West of the Sun (26°) on February 16th; from around this time it begins to pull away from Venus and Mars, elongating the planetary triangle Eastwards as it heads back towards the Sun. Mercury is 15°.4 East of Venus at midnight UT on the 16th, 16°.6 East of it on the 19th and 18° East of it on the 22nd.

Venus passes 4°.2 North of Albaldah (Greek lower-case letter 'pi' Sgr or Pi Sagittarii, mag. +2.9), located in the Archer's head, on February 16th.

From around the third week of February, the planet Saturn (magnitude +0.7) begins to emerge into the dawn sky, positioned some 27° to the East of Venus in central Capricornus. Saturn is at the start of its 2022-23 apparition, which will see it reach its peak brightness (+0.3) at opposition in early August. The arrival of the ringed planet in the dawn sky creates a quartet of planets across 28° of sky. The waning crescent Moon passes by the quartet from February 27th to March 1st.

On February 23rd Venus attains its most Southerly declination (angular distance measured perpendicular to the celestial equator) of the apparition, at -16° 58' (-16°.96 in decimal format), such that it rises in the ESE as seen from most inhabited locations on Earth. This is not particularly far South along the horizon - in other Venusian apparitions the planet's placement in Sagittarius would cause it to rise as far as the South-east at higher latitudes - however on this occasion it does not because the parallax caused by Venus' relative closeness to the Earth at this time positions it 4°.9 to the North of the ecliptic; consequently, its declination is shifted several degrees Northwards.

In late February, observers situated at Northern Tropical latitudes see Venus attain its highest altitude before sunrise for the 2022 morning apparition. At 20° North the planet rises 2¾ hours ahead of the Sun, reaching 28° above the South-eastern horizon at half-an-hour before sunrise. Elsewhere the planet rises 1¾ hours before sunrise (at 60º North), 2½ hours before sunrise (at 30º North), three hours before the Sun (at the Equator) and 3¼ hours before the Sun (at 35º South). At thirty minutes before sunrise, Venus stands just 6º high in the South-east at 60º North, 23º high in the South-east at 30º North, 34º high in the ESE at the Equator and 34º high in the East at 35º South.

Mercury, now magnitude +0.0, is racing Eastwards towards Saturn at a rate of 1°.2 per day and pulling away from Venus and Mars at about half that rate. Mercury is 8°.2 to the WSW of Saturn and 19° to the East of Venus at midnight UT on February 24th, 4°.7 to the WSW of Saturn and 20°.6 to the East of Venus on the 27th and 1°.1 to the South-west of Saturn and 22°.3 to the East of Venus on March 2nd.

2 0 2 2  March

Mercury and Saturn are in conjunction on March 2nd, situated 22°.8 to the East of Venus. Mars enters Capricornus on March 5th, followed by Venus on the 7th, positioned 4°.4 to the NNW of the Red Planet. Since their conjunction in mid-February the two planets have been moving Eastwards along the ecliptic more or less in unison, the angular distance between them closing very slowly.

On March 9th Venus passes 3º.8 South of the star Algedi (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha'2 Cap or Alpha-2 Capricorni), an apparent naked-eye double star with Prima Giedi (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha'1 Cap or Alpha-1 Capricorni, mag. +4.2). Prior to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) standardising the name in 2016 (see below) Algedi was also known as Secunda Giedi. The stars are separated in the night sky by 6'.4 (0°.1) but they are not physically related, since they lie at very different distances from the Earth.

Mars, Venus and Algedi line up along 7º.9 at around 7 hours UT on March 10th, Venus being positioned very nearly at the centre of the line. Venus passes 1º.5 South of another double star, Dabih (Greek lower-case letter 'beta'1 Cap or Beta-1 Capricorni, mag. +3.1), later on the same day. It is a yellow star with a blue companion of magnitude +6.1, positioned 3'.5 to the West, visible in binoculars and small telescopes. Mars, Venus and Dabih line up along 5º.6 at around 21 hours UT.

For Equatorial observers, March sees Venus attain its highest altitude above the horizon before sunrise. Around mid-March, Venus rises three hours before the Sun, reaching 35° above the ESE horizon some 30 minutes ahead of sunrise.

Venus and Mars reach conjunction for a second time at 1411 UT on March 12th, Venus being 4º to the North of the Red Planet. Much like their conjunction a month earlier, the event is best seen from the Southern hemisphere (for further details see the Planetary Conjunctions section below). After conjunction, Venus slowly pulls ahead of Mars to the East, being 3º.9 to the NNE of Mars at midnight UT on March 16th, 3º.9 to the NNE of it on the 19th and 4º.2 to the North-east of it on the 22nd.

Mercury heads into the twilight from mid-March and becomes lost from view. With its departure from the morning sky, Venus now forms a triangle with Mars and Saturn, the latter planet being positioned at the apex, the triangle pointing East towards neighbouring Aquarius, the Water-Carrier. The triangle will continue to be visible through to late March, changing its form and shrinking over that period.

Crescent Venus imaged by Yaroslav Naryzhniy in August 2020 (Image: Yaroslav Naryzhniy/ALPO-Japan)Venus near Greatest Elongation in the dawn sky, imaged in ultraviolet light by Yaroslav Naryzhniy (Kiev region, Ukraine) in August 2020 (click on the thumbnail for a larger version, 4 KB). Naryzhniy used a 16-inch (400 mm) Dall-Kirkham reflector telescope fitted with a CMOS camera (Image: Yaroslav Naryzhniy / ALPO-Japan)

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At 1011 UT on March 20th Venus reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun for this apparition (46°.6 West) in Northern central Capricornus, positioned just to the South of its border with Aquarius. Telescopes now show Venus' disk half-illuminated (phase = 0.50 or 50%) with an apparent diameter of 24".6. Although the greatest elongation from the Sun occurs on March 20th, Venus is in fact positioned at 46°.6 solar elongation from March 19th through to the 23rd. The planet's apparent magnitude at this time is -4.3. When seen from a point far above the Solar System, the Earth, Venus and the Sun now form a right-angled triangle in space, with Venus positioned at the 90° angle.

In theory, greatest elongation is the time at which the planet's terminator (the line seperating the light and dark sides of the planet) appears perfectly straight through telescopes, essentially dividing Venus into two perfect halves; this is known as the dichotomy. However, telescopic observers often report the straight terminator several days earlier or later than the greatest elongation date; typically early in evening apparitions and late in morning apparitions. This is known as the phase anomaly or Schröter's Effect (after the German astronomer Johann Schröter, who first observed the phenomenon in 1793) and is thought to be due to Venus' dense atmosphere scattering the sunlight. In the current apparition, therefore, telescopic observers can expect to see a 50% phase on or around March 24th.

Contrary to what one might think, greatest elongation day is not necessarily the day on which Venus is above the horizon ahead of sunrise for the longest period of time. Since the angle of the ecliptic to the Eastern horizon at dawn varies with the observer's latitude, Venus is seen above the horizon for differing periods of time at different latitudes. At 60° North Venus rises only an hour before sunrise; at the Equator the planet rises three hours before sunrise whilst at 35° South it rises 3½ hours before the Sun. Hence for the current apparition, observers at mid-Southern latitudes are best placed to see Venus above the horizon for the longest period on greatest elongation day.

Greatest elongation day now having passed, the phase of Venus changes from crescentic to gibbous (i.e. between a half-disk and a full disk), as it will remain through to the end of the apparition.

Venus passes 2º.5 North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'theta' Cap (Theta Capricorni, mag. +4.0), at the centre of the Sea Goat's body, on March 22nd. On the following day the planet enters Aquarius for a short period through its South-western border, positioned 4º.3 to the North-east of Mars.

At around 18 hours UT on March 24th Venus, Mars and Saturn form an isoscelene triangle, with Venus at the North-pointing apex. The long side (Mars-Saturn) is 7º.5 in length and the other two sides (Venus-Mars and Venus-Saturn) are 4º.5 long; Venus is in Aquarius and the other two are in Capricornus.

From around the third week of March, the giant planet Jupiter (mag. -1.9) emerges into the dawn sky at the start of its 2022-23 apparition, positioned in North-eastern Aquarius. As it emerges it is about 31º to the ENE of Venus.

At 0720 UT on March 26th, the distance between the Earth and Venus is the same as that between the Sun and Venus, at 0.7242 AU (108.3 million kms or 67.3 million statute miles). Seen from far above the Earth's North pole, the Earth, Venus and the Sun now form an isoscelene triangle in space, with Venus positioned at the apex. Still in Aquarius, Venus passes 3º.0 North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'iota' Cap (Iota Capricorni, mag. +4.3) on the same day.

Venus returns to Capricornus at 4 hours UT on March 27th, entering its North-eastern region, with Mars positioned 5º to its South-west and Saturn 2º.7 to its South-east.

The brightest star in Aquarius is Sadalsuud (Greek lower-case letter 'beta' Aqr or Beta Aquarii, mag. +2.9), a name which is Arabic for 'the lucky one of the lucky', its meaning having astrological origins; Venus passes 7º.7 South of it at 7 hours UT on March 28th. At about 18 hours UT on the same day Venus, Saturn and Mars form a right-angled triangle, with Saturn at the right-angle. The angular distance from Venus to Saturn is 2º.1, from Venus to Mars (hypotenuse) is 5º.4 and from Mars to Saturn is 4º.9. The waning crescent Moon passes by the trio between March 28th and the 31st.

At 1311 UT on March 29th Venus and Saturn reach conjunction in North-eastern Capricornus, the third planetary conjunction of the 2022 morning apparition. Mars - having now brightened to magnitude +1.0 - is positioned 4º.9 to the South-west of the pair. The conjunction is ideally placed for Southern hemisphere observers, from where the ecliptic presents a steep angle to the Eastern horizon at dawn at this time of year. For more details, see the planetary conjunctions section below.

Some 2º.7 to the South-east of the aforementioned Sadalsuud is the binary star Bunda (Greek lower-case letter 'xi' Aqr or Xi Aquarii, mag. +4.7), a name formally assigned by the IAU in 2018 after a Persian lunar mansion. The name was approved by the Working Group on Star Names (WGSN), a new division of the IAU whom, since 2016, has been cataloguing and standardizing the star names used by the international astronomical community. In the process, it has tried to accommodate the astronomical lore of a wider diversity of global cultures, i.e. from mythologies other than Arab, Greek and Roman, whose star names dominate the night sky. Venus passes 5º.1 South of Bunda at around 18 hours UT on March 29th. The planet passes by several other 'newly-named' stars during its 2022 morning apparition, some of which will be discussed below.

On March 30th Venus passes 3º.8 North of the star Nashira (Greek lower-case letter 'gamma' Cap or Gamma Capricorni, mag. +3.7), located in the tail of the Sea Goat.

In late March, observers at mid-Southern latitudes see Venus attain its highest altitude in the sky before sunrise for the 2022 apparition. At latitude 35° South the planet rises over 3½ hours before the Sun, reaching an altitude of around 37° high in the East at 30 minutes before sunrise. In fact, when assessed in terms of horizon altitude and visibility duration before sunrise, the 2022 morning apparition of Venus is the best of the planet's five morning apparition cycles for the Southern hemisphere; conversely, it is the worst of the five for the Northern hemisphere (for more details, see the accompanying article describing The Venus 8-year Cycle).

At 0940 UT on March 31st Venus, Saturn and Mars are equally spaced in a wide 'V' formation (or flat triangle) positioned just to the North of the Sea-Goat's tail. The angular distance from Venus to Saturn - and from Saturn to Mars - is 3º.1.

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2 0 2 2  April

Venus passes 3º.7 North of Capricornus' brightest star, a variable named Deneb Algedi (Greek lower-case letter 'delta' Cap or Delta Capricorni, mag. +2.9v), on April 1st. The name means 'tail of the goat' and it was also known as Deneb Algiedi or Scheddi before IAU standardisation in 2017.

In early April telescopes show a 55% illuminated (i.e. slightly gibbous) phase. The apparent diameter has now reduced to around 22" and the planet shines at an apparent visual magnitude of -4.2.

For observers at high-Northern latitudes, Venus has been rising in twilight for much of the apparition so far, barely gaining any significant altitude before disappearing from view. From early April naked-eye observers situated North of about 59° North lose sight of the planet completely in the twilight and will not see it again until about late June, when the Northern hemisphere summer twilight is past its peak duration.

In early April the most distant 'true' planet Neptune (mag. +7.9) begins to appear in the dawn sky. Requiring binoculars or a telescope to be seen, it is located very close to the North-eastern boundary of Aquarius with Pisces, the Fishes. At midnight UT on April 3rd Neptune is 26º.5 to the ENE of Venus and only 1º.9 ENE of Jupiter.

At around 14 hours UT on April 3rd Venus, Saturn and Mars form a line 6º.8 in length, orientated North-east/South-west in Eastern Capricornus. The distance between Venus and Saturn is 5º.7 and that between Saturn and Mars is a little over 1º. Venus re-enters Aquarius at 19 hours UT on the same day. Mars and Saturn are in conjunction on April 4th, the Red Planet passing 0º.3 to the South of the ringed planet. Venus is located 7º to the ENE of the pair at the moment of conjunction.

Venus passes 10º.8 South of Aquarius' second-brightest star Sadalmelik (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' Aqr or Alpha Aquarii, mag. +2.9) on April 5th. Although incorrectly assigned the Greek letter alpha - intended for the brightest star in the constellation - the brightness difference between this star and the constellation's true brightest star (Sadalsuud or Greek lower-case letter 'beta' Aqr) is fractional: Sadalmelik has an apparent visual magnitude of +2.95 whilst that of Sadalsuud is +2.90. Given the difference of just 0.05 magnitudes, we can perhaps forgive Johann Bayer, who first allotted stars their Greek letters in his 1603 star catalogue - and who had to estimate their order of brightness by naked-eye!

Later on April 5th Venus passes 2º.7 North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'iota' Aqr (Iota Aquarii, mag. +4.2), positioned at the 'knee-joint' of the Water Carrier's advancing leg. On April 8th the planet passes 2º.6 South of the star Ancha (Greek lower-case letter 'theta' Aqr or Theta Aquarii, mag. +4.1). Between April 9th and 12th the planet is positioned about 9º South of Aquarius' best-known identifier, the so-called Steering Wheel asterism. At the centre of the 'wheel' is the star Greek lower-case letter 'zeta' Aqr (Zeta Aquarii, mag. +3.7) with the stars Sadachbia (Greek lower-case letter 'gamma' Aqr or Gamma Aquarii, mag. +3.9), Greek lower-case letter 'eta' Aqr (Eta Aquarii, mag. +4.0) and Greek lower-case letter 'pi' Aqr (Pi Aquarii, mag. +4.8) encircling it. It is one of several asterisms spread across the zodiac with which beginner astronomers should become familiar, in order to aid constellation identification.

Venus at 68% phase imaged by Joaquin Camarena in September 2020 (Image: Joaquin Camarena/ALPO-Japan)Gibbous Venus at 68% Phase imaged by Joaquin Camarena (Valencia, Spain) in September 2020 (click on the thumbnail for a larger version, 4 KB). Camarena used a 14-inch (355 mm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope fitted with a CMOS camera and an ultraviolet filter to bring out cloud detail (Image: Joaquin Camarena / ALPO-Japan)

Venus crosses to the South of the ecliptic on April 10th. Mars enters Aquarius on April 11th, trailing 9º.2 to the South-west of Venus.

At 1244 UT on April 16th Venus passes just 3' (0º.05) South of Greek lower-case letter 'lambda' Aqr (Lambda Aquarii, mag. +3.9) which the planet occulted on the same date during its 2014 morning apparition. It is both a red giant and a variable star and is unofficially known by the name Hydor. Venus passes 8º.4 North of the star Skat (Greek lower-case letter 'delta' Aqr, or Delta Aquarii, mag. +3.2), at the base of the Waterman's amphora, on the following day.

Since their triangular formation in late March Venus has been rapidly pulling away Eastwards from Mars and approaching Jupiter at a rate of about 0°.9 per day. At around 9 hours UT on April 18th Venus is positioned mid-way between Mars and Jupiter, the Mars-Venus and Venus-Jupiter distances being 11º.4. Saturn is 9º to the WSW of Mars.

At 1546 UT on April 21st Venus passes 18' (0º.3) North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'phi' Aqr (Phi Aquarii, mag. +4.2), which the planet will occult during its evening apparition in January 2028.

Between April 22nd and 29th Venus passes several degrees South of the Circlet of Pisces, positioned at the Western end of Pisces. The Circlet is the most distinct feature of the constellation and comprises seven stars of fourth and fifth magnitude (at this time of the year the Circlet is only visible South of about latitude 49° North). The passage begins at 7 hours UT on April 22nd when Venus passes 8°.7 South of  Greek lower-case letter 'gamma' Aqr (Gamma Piscium, mag. +3.7), the Westernmost star of the Circlet.

At around 16 hours UT on April 25th Mars is positioned mid-way between Venus and Saturn, the angular distance between the latter two planets being 28º.1. Jupiter is 4º.7 to the ENE of Venus, the four planets now forming a line some 33º in length from South-western Pisces through to North-eastern Capricornus. All four planets are positioned about 1º South of the ecliptic. Neptune is also in the line, positioned roughly mid-way between Venus and Jupiter. The waning crescent Moon passes to the South of the line-up from April 25th to 28th.

At 1907 UT on April 27th Venus (mag. -4.0) passes a mere 35" (0°.01) to the South of Neptune (+7.9) in a difficult-to-observe planetary conjunction positioned only 3' (0º.05) South of Aquarius' border with Pisces; Venus enters Pisces at 22 hours UT on the same day. The planet completes its passage of the Circlet at 5 hours UT on April 29th when it passes 6°.2 South of the star TX Psc or 19 Psc (19 Piscium, mag. +5.1v), positioned at the Eastern end of the asterism. It is a red giant variable star with a small irregular brightness variation of between magnitudes +4.8 and +5.2.

Three days after passing Neptune, Venus and Jupiter (mag. -1.9) are in a close conjunction on April 30th, coming to within 15' (0º.25) of each other. Mars is positioned 16º to their South-west whilst Neptune is 3º.3 to their WSW. Both of these conjunctions are best seen from the Southern hemisphere. For more details, see the Planetary Conjunctions section below.

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2 0 2 2  May

On May 1st at 0322 UT Venus is positioned at precisely 1.0000 AU from the Earth, i.e. the same distance as the average distance of the Earth from the Sun (149.5 million kms or 92.9 million statute miles). At this point in the apparition the distance between Venus and the Earth is increasing at an average rate of about 1.1 million kms (692,800 statute miles) per day.

Having now passed the Circlet, Venus passes 8º.3 South of the star Greek lower-case letter 'omega' Psc (Omega Piscium, mag. +4.2), located at the Southern fish's tail on old star maps, on May 2nd. It is also the brightest star which is positioned closest to the 'zero-hour' of celestial longitude, being just 0'.69 (0°.011) West of 0 hours Right Ascension (epoch 2000.0 coordinates). The planet crosses to the North of the celestial equator (where the declination of a celestial body is 0°) on May 5th, meaning that the planet now rises due East across the inhabited world.

Venus enters the constellation of Cetus, the Whale, for a four-day period commencing May 8th. Five planets are now spread in a line 42° long; in order of angular distance from the Sun, they are: Venus, Jupiter, Neptune, Mars and Saturn. Venus is now pulling away from the group towards the ENE at a rate of about 1° per day.

At around 1330 UT on May 11th Venus, Jupiter and Mars are evenly spread over 20°.2 of sky within three constellations: Venus in Cetus, Jupiter in Pisces and Mars in Aquarius (Neptune, having just entered Pisces, is almost mid-way between Mars and Jupiter). This fine celestial equilibrium is even more enhanced by the fact that Jupiter is positioned less than 1° South of the celestial equator and is only a little over 1° from the First Point of Aries, the point on the ecliptic where the Sun crosses the celestial equator each year at the Spring (Vernal) Equinox.

Venus re-enters Pisces through its central Southern boundary on May 12th. At this time of the year the constellation is only wholly observable from the Equator Southwards to about latitude 35° South. From latitudes North of about 47° North the constellation continues to be unobservable, the lengthening Northern hemisphere summer twilight only serving to compound the situation.

Venus passes 4º.2 South of the star Greek lower-case letter 'delta' Psc (Delta Piscium, mag. +4.4), positioned about half-way along the Southern Fish figure of Pisces, on May 13th. The star is one of several which on old star maps mark the long and winding cord between the Northern and Southern Fishes.

By mid-May Venus' elongation has reduced to 40° and it has dimmed slightly to magnitude -3.9. It appears distinctly gibbous through telescopes, showing a 73% illuminated phase and a disk-diameter of around 15". The planet is now rising in the East 1¼ hours before sunrise at 50° North, 2 hours before sunrise at 30° North, 2½ hours before sunrise at the Equator and 3¼ hours before sunrise at 35° South. At 30 minutes before sunrise, the planet reaches only 6° above the horizon at 50° North, 17° high at 30° North, 29° high at the Equator and 31° high at 35° South.

Venus passes the most distant point in its orbit from the Sun - known as the aphelion - on May 15th, at a solar distance of 0.7282 AU (108.9 million kms or 67.7 million statute miles).

'Morning Stars' Venus and Jupiter rising in Ophiuchus in January 2019 (Copyright Martin J Powell 2019)

'Morning Stars' Venus and Jupiter rising in dawn twilight, photographed by the writer in January 2019 (click on the thumbnail for the full-size photo, 99 KB). Both planets were positioned in Ophiuchus (Venus is the higher and brighter of the two). In the full-size picture, several stars in Northern Scorpius can be seen at right of picture.

On May 17th Venus passes 3º.2 South of the star Greek lower-case letter 'epsilon' Psc (Epsilon Piscium, mag. +4.2), another star in the meandering cord. Positioned 2°.7 to the East of Greek lower-case letter 'epsilon' Psc is the double star Revati (Greek lower-case letter 'zeta' Psc or Zeta Piscium,, mag. +4.9), a Sanskrit name adopted by the IAU in 2017 and derived from the daughter of King Kakudmi in Hindu mythology, a consort of the god Balarama (the elder brother of Krishna). Venus passes 1°.8 South of Revati on May 19th. The star comprises two components of magnitude +5.2 and +6.3, separated by a wide 23" (0'.4) and easily split in small telescopes.

At 9 hours UT on May 23rd Venus passes 1º.1 North of Greek lower-case letter 'mu' Psc (Mu Piscium, mag.+4.8) then at 17 hours UT passes 7°.8 South of the brightest star in Pisces, Alpherg (Greek lower-case letter 'eta' Psc or Eta Piscium, mag. +3.8). The name is Arabic for 'the cord' and is not in common usage. It is a yellow giant star which, to most amateur astronomers, serves as a convenient 'finder star' for the galaxy Messier 74 (M74 or NGC 628), a 10th-magnitude face-on spiral which is one of the faintest objects in the Messier catalogue. It is positioned just 1°.3 to the ENE of Alpherg.

Venus passes 24' (0°.4) South of the star Torcular (Greek lower-case letter 'omicron' Psc or Omicron Piscium, mag. +4.2), positioned in the tail of the Northern Fish, at 1951 UT on May 26th. The name Torcular was standardized by the IAU in 2017, the original name having been the fanciful Torcularis Septentrionalis. Venus will occult the star during the planet's morning apparition in 2027.

From around midnight UT on May 27th the 26-day-old waning crescent Moon passes in front of Venus, blocking it from view, in an event known as a lunar occultation - the only such event to take place during the planet's 2022 morning apparition. The occultation is visible in darkness from the North-western Southern Ocean and Southern Madagascar and in twilight from the South-western Indian Ocean. The visibility track and timings can be seen by following the link in the Moon near Venus Dates section below.

Venus passes 9º.7 South of the double star Mesarthim (Greek lower-case letter 'gamma' Ari or Gamma Arietis, mag. +3.9), in neighbouring Aries, the Ram, at around 16 hours UT on May 28th. Easily resolved in small telescopes, it comprises two white stars of magnitudes +4.6 and +4.7, separated by 7".5. At 21 hours UT on the same day the planet passes 11º.2 South of the star Sheratan (Greek lower-case letter 'beta' Ari or Beta Arietis, mag. +2.6). The name Mesarthim is Arabic in origin but its meaning is unclear, however the star has been associated with Sheratan (Arabic for 'the signs') since ancient times, when the stellar pair were considered to mark the New Year.

Mars and Jupiter meet in conjunction in Pisces at three minutes past midnight UT on May 29th, positioned some 27° to the WSW of Venus and 11° to the ESE of the centre of the Circlet.

Venus passes 7°.6 North of the double-star Alrescha (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' Psc or Alpha Piscium, mag. +3.8), at the tail-end of the Fishes, on May 30th. The name was standardized by the IAU in 2016, the star having previously been known as Al Rischa, Alrisha or Al Rescha. It comprises two blue-white components of magnitudes +4.1 and +5.1, separated by an angular distance of 1".8 on a roughly East-West orientation. Telescopes of at least 75 mm (3 in) aperture are required to split the pair.

In late May the planet Uranus (mag. +5.8) emerges into the dawn sky at the start of its 2022-23 apparition. Currently in central Aries, it adds to a planetary line-up in the morning sky which is becoming increasingly spectacular.

Venus moves into Aries on May 31st; at this time of the year the constellation is observable just before dawn from latitudes South of about 53° North. The planet passes 12°.5 South of the constellation's brightest star Hamal (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' Ari or Alpha Arietis, mag. +2.0) later on the same day. In 2011 Hamal was found to have an extra-solar planet or exoplanet (a planet outside our own Solar System) orbiting around it.

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2 0 2 2  June

As if six planets were not enough in the existing line-up, in early June Mercury (magnitude +2.7) emerges into the dawn sky at the start of its second morning apparition of 2022. In the early morning hours (UT) of June 3rd, the naked-eye planet observer is presented with a spectacular line-up of five naked-eye planets - plus two binocular ones - in the morning sky. Remarkably, the order of the naked-eye planets on this occasion is the same as their orbital distance from the Sun. The line from Mercury to Saturn extends 90°.7, i.e. fractionally over a quarter of the angular circumference of the celestial sphere, stretching from Taurus, the Bull to Capricornus. Even dwarf planet Pluto (mag. +14.4) is technically in the line-up: it is positioned in Eastern Sagittarius, close to its border with Capricornus (if one includes Pluto, the line-up length is about 117°). The line-up continues throughout June, albeit increasing in length with each passing day, ending when Mercury leaves the morning sky.

Diagram showing a line-up of planets in the morning sky of June 3rd 2022 (Copyright Martin J Powell 2021)

A Planetary Line-up on June 3rd 2022 sees all seven planets come to within 91° of each other in the morning sky, shown here in the plane of the ecliptic (click on the thumbnail for the full-size image, 16 KB). The planets are indicated by their initial letters and are shown at their correct relative apparent magnitudes (the Sun is shown as an 'S' within a circle). Note that the order of the five naked-eye planets from the Sun matches that of their orbital distances from the Sun (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are also in order, although out of sequence from the brighter group). All seven planets - plus Pluto - are positioned to the South of the ecliptic. If one includes Pluto the line-up extends to 117°.

The planetary line-up is ideally viewed from the Southern hemisphere, from where the ecliptic presents a steep angle to the horizon before dawn at this time of the year. The Southern Tropics are perhaps the best latitudes to observe it. For observers located North of about 30° North latitude, however, low altitude and twilight interfere with observation of Uranus and Mercury, which rise much closer to sunrise. At Southern latitudes observers can expect to see Uranus reach 10°-15° in altitude before the dawn twilight overwhelms it, whilst Mercury reaches 13°-17° above the horizon before disappearing from view. The Moon begins to interfere with observation of the fainter planets from June 13th to 23rd (the Moon is Full on June 14th). The Moon passes the line-up between June 18th and 27th; it is waning gibbous when passing Saturn, Last Quarter passing Neptune and waning crescent passing the remaining planets. The angular length of the line-up (from Mercury to Saturn) over the month is as follows: 91°.6 on June 8th, 94°.2 on the 13th, 99°.1 on the 18th, 104°.9 on the 23rd, 112°.1 on the 28th and 121° on July 3rd (when Mercury heads out of view). To include Pluto in the line-up, add 27° to these numbers.

Coincident with the June planetary line-up is, of course, a Venus-Mercury paired apparition, which in this case lasts from June 1st to July 3rd. As with the line-up, this apparition of Mercury favours Southern hemisphere observers due to the planet's better visibility from these latitudes at this time.

On June 10th Venus passes 12º.8 South of the variable and double star Bharani (41 Ari or 41 Arietis, mag. +3.6), named after the second lunar mansion in Hindu astrology. It is another name which was adopted by the IAU in 2017.

At 1316 UT on June 11th Venus (mag, -3.8) passes 1°.6 to the South of Uranus (+5.8) in the sixth and final observable planetary conjunction of the 2022 morning apparition. Taking place only 34° from the Sun the conjunction is poorly placed and only visible from latitudes South of the Northern Tropics.

On June 12th Venus passes 6º.3 South of Greek lower-case letter 'epsilon' Ari (Epsilon Arietis, mag. +4.6), which is also both a variable star and a double star. Its two white components are magnitudes +5.2 and +5.5 and are separated by just 1".5, requiring telescopes of at least 100 mm (4 in) and high magnification in order to split them.

On June 14th Venus passes 3º.7 South of the star Botein (Greek lower-case letter 'delta' Ari or Delta Arietis, mag. +4.3) which on older star maps marked the hind leg of the Ram.

Mercury (mag. +0.7) reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun (23°.2 W) on June 16th, positioned just across the border in Taurus some 10°.2 to the East of Venus. Venus itself enters Taurus on June 17th; from latitudes South of about 35° North, only the Western half of the constellation is visible at this time of the year. Venus passes 7º.8 North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'omicron' Tau (Omicron Tauri, mag. +3.6), at the Western edge of the constellation, later that same day. The planet passes 4º.2 North of the star 5 Tau (5 Tauri, mag. +4.1) on June 18th.

Venus and Mercury come closest to each other on June 21st, when they are 9º.7 apart; on this particular occastion they do not reach conjunction.

From June 21st to 22nd Venus passes ca. 6° South of the open star cluster known as the Pleiades (pronounced 'PLY-add-eez' or 'PLEE-add-eez') or The Seven Sisters (M45), perhaps the best-known star cluster in the night sky. The cluster is only observable South of about latitude 40º North at the present time, positioned low above the ENE horizon just before dawn. Under dark skies the seven brightest stars in the group can be seen with the naked-eye and are often considered to be a good test of visual acuity. The planet passes 5°.9 South of the cluster's brightest Western star (Electra) at 17 hours UT on the 21st and completes its passage of the cluster at 14 hours UT on 22nd, when it passes 5°.7 South of its brightest Eastern star (Atlas).

On June 24th Venus passes 6°.5 North of the eclipsing binary star Greek lower-case letter 'lambda' Tau (Lambda Tauri), positioned at the 'heart' of the Bull figure, whose magnitude varies from ca. 3.5 to 4.0 over a period of four days. The waning crescent Moon passes to the North of Venus and Mercury between June 26th and 27th.

Positioned between Mercury and Venus as the Moon passes by them is a much larger star cluster known as the Hyades, a distinct 'V'-shaped grouping of stars forming the head of the Bull. The cluster comprises around 400 stars spread over an area of about 5° of the sky. At the apex of the 'V' is the star Prima Hyadum (Greek lower-case letter 'gamma' Tau or Gamma Tauri, mag. +3.6) which, before standardization by the IAU, was known variously as Primus Hyadum or Hyadum I. Venus passes 4°.3 North of the star on June 28th. On June 29th Venus passes 2°.6 North of the star Secunda Hyadum (Greek lower-case letter 'delta'1 Tau or Delta-1 Tauri, mag. +3.7), a triple star system positioned about half-way along the Northern arm of the Hyades cluster. Before IAU standardization in 2017, the star was also known as Secundus Hyadum or Hyadum II.

Also positioned along the Northern arm is the star Ain (Greek lower-case letter 'epsilon' Tau or Epsilon Tauri, mag. +3.5), marking the base of the Bull's Northern horn. An exoplanet was detected orbiting this star in 2007, which was given the designation Epsilon Tauri b. Venus passes 1°.2 North of Ain on June 30th. At the same moment, Venus passes 4°.5 North of Chamukuy (Greek lower-case letter 'theta'2 Tau or Theta-2 Tauri, mag. +3.7), the brightest of the Hyades' 'true' members (see Aldebaran below), positioned about half-way along the Southern arm of the cluster. The name Chamukuy is that of a small bird in Yucatec Mayan culture and it was adopted by the IAU in 2017. The star forms a naked-eye yellow-white double with  Greek lower-case letter 'theta'1 Tau (Theta-1 Tauri, mag. +3.8), positioned some 337" (5'.6 or 0°.09) to the North.

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2 0 2 2  July

Venus passes 4°.2 to the North of Aldebaran, an orange-red star which marks the 'eye' of the Bull, on July 1st. The star's coloration derives from the fact that it is a red giant star. Most of the Hyades stars comprise a genuine cluster, moving through space together, however Aldebaran is not part of the group; it is a foreground star, positioned at a much closer distance of 68 light years (where 1 light year = 63,240 AU) from Earth. Aldebaran is currently the brightest star in the night sky which is known to host an exoplanet. Confirmed in 2015, it is known as Aldebaran b and is estimated to have a minimum mass of about six Jupiter masses.

Mercury heads out of view from the dawn sky during the first week of July; it will become the only evening planet in the Western sky from early August.

On July 11th Venus passes 6°.2 South of the star Elnath (Greek lower-case letter 'beta' Tau or Beta Tauri, mag. +1.6), which is located at the tip of the Bull's Northern horn. The name was standardized by the IAU in 2016, previous versions of the name being spelled Al Nath, El Nath or simply Nath. The star also neatly completes the six-sided figure comprising the stars of Auriga, the Charioteer, located to the North-east of Taurus.

Venus passes 25' (0°.41) North of the Crab Nebula (M1 or NGC 1952) at 1020 UT on July 13th. It is the gaseous remnant of a supernova which exploded in 1054 AD. It is a faint object, just visible in binoculars under dark skies and an elongated wisp when seen through telescopes.

On July 14th passes 1°.3 North of the star Tianguan (Greek lower-case letter 'zeta' Tau or Zeta Tauri, mag. +2.9v), which marks the tip of the Bull's Southern horn. The name, adopted by the IAU in 2017, is derived from Chinese astronomy, in which the star is known as the Celestial Gate, part of an asterism contained within a mansion called Bì Xiù ('the Net').

At 7 hours UT on July 16th, Venus enters the Northernmost section of Orion, the Hunter, which it will occupy for the next couple of days. On July 17th the planet passes 15°.4 North of Betelgeuse (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' Ori or Alpha Orionis, mag. +0.7v), an orange-red variable star positioned at the North-eastern corner of the Hunter's quadrilateral. Its magnitude fluctuates between about +0.0 and +1.3 over a period of several years, which means that only on short occasions does it take the title of the brightest star in Orion - most of the time, this honour goes to Rigel (Greek lower-case letter 'beta' Ori or Beta Orionis, mag. +0.1v), positioned on the opposite corner of the quadrilateral. Venus passes about 2°.5 North of Orion's 'club', topped by the stars Greek lower-case letter 'chi'1 Ori and Greek lower-case letter 'chi'2 Ori (Chi-1 and Chi-2 Orionis, mags. +4.4 and +4.6), between July 17th and 19th.

Venus enters Gemini, the Twins, at 1019 UT on July 18th. At the present time, only the Twins' legs can be seen from the Northern Tropics Southwards to about latitude 30° South, rising in the ENE just before dawn. The planet passes 27' (0°.45) South of the star 1 Gem (1 Geminorum, mag. +4.2) on the 19th; the star marks the foot of the Northern twin (Castor). A short distance North-east of 1 Geminorum is the open star cluster M35 (NGC 2168). The cluster has an apparent diameter of 30' (about the size of the Full Moon) and it contains over 400 stars(!) It can be glimpsed with the naked-eye as a misty patch of light on a dark, clear night. Venus passes 1°.5 South of the cluster on July 20th.

At 0345 UT on July 21st Venus passes 21' (0°.35) North of the star Propus (Greek lower-case letter 'eta' Gem or Eta Geminorum, mag. +3.5v), also referred to as Tejat Prior or Praepes before IAU standardization in 2016. At 1643 UT on July 22nd Venus passes the same distance (21') North of the star Tejat (Greek lower-case letter 'mu' Gem or Mu Geminorum, mag. +3.0v), which marks the Northern twin's knee. Before IAU standardization the star was known by several other names: Tejat Posterior, Nuhatai, Calx and Pish Pai!

Also on July 22nd, Venus attains its most Northerly declination of the apparition at +22° 51' (+22°.85 in decimal format) in Western Gemini. The planet now rises at its most Northerly point along the local horizon, an effect which is more pronounced the further North in latitude an observer is situated.  At the Equator, for example, Venus rises in the ENE at this time whilst at 60° North it rises in the North-east, some 29° further North along the horizon.

On July 23rd Venus passes 2°.6 to the North of the double star Greek lower-case letter 'nu' Gem (Nu Geminorum, mag.+4.1), which the planet will occult during its morning apparition in August 2028 when it is close to maximum solar elongation.

On July 25th Venus passes 6°.5 North of the star Alhena (Greek lower-case letter 'gamma' Gem or Gamma Geminorum, mag. +2.0), which is positioned at the foot of the Southern twin (Pollux). On July 26th the planet passes 2°.3 South of Mebsuta (Greek lower-case letter 'epsilon' Gem or Epsilon Geminorum, mag. +3.0) which is positioned at the groin of the Northern twin.

During late July and into August, observers at high and mid-Northern latitudes see the planet attain a secondary altitude 'peak'. At latitude 60° North, some 30 minutes before sunrise, the planet attains an altitude of 9° above the North-eastern horizon - only 1° higher than in early February and even this was not very high, but it is the best that observers at these latitudes get during the 2022 apparition. Mid-Northern observers fare little better; at 30 minutes before sunrise, the planet reaches just 12° above the ENE horizon, almost the same altitude as back in February but further North along the local horizon. Telescopically the planet appears a little over 90% illuminated and, at 11" across, little can be discerned in the way of cloud markings.

At around 0830 UT on July 28th Venus forms an isoscelene triangle with Gemini's two luminaries Castor (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' Gem or Alpha Geminorum, mag. +1.6) and Pollux (Greek lower-case letter 'beta' Gem or Beta Geminorum, mag. +1.1), which are positioned to the ENE of the planet. The long sides of the triangle measure a little over 13° and the angular distance of the short side (from Castor to Pollux) is 4°.5. The temporary celestial triangle points South-westwards towards Orion. This celestial geometry is visible in twilight from the extreme North-eastern states of Canada (Labrador, Newfoundland, North-eastern Quebec and New Brunswick), low down over the NNE horizon at dawn.

On July 30th Venus passes 1°.9 North of the optical double star Mekbuda (Greek lower-case letter 'zeta'Gem or Zeta Geminorum, mag. +3.9v), positioned at the right knee of the Southern twin.

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2 0 2 2  August

As August arrives Venus' solar elongation has reduced to 22° and its visibility across the world is becoming more limited. At 60° North the planet rises in twilight about 2¼ hours before the Sun, reaching 9° above the ENE horizon some 30 minutes before sunrise. At mid-Northern latitudes Venus is rising about 2 hours ahead of the Sun, reaching 11° high in the ENE at 30 minutes before sunrise. Equatorial and Northern Tropical latitudes see the planet rise about 1¾ hours before the Sun, reaching 13° high in the ENE at one half-hour before sunrise. Mid-Southern hemisphere observers now have a rapidly shortening window in which to observe the planet, despite it rising in near-darkness. At 35° South, Venus rises 1¼ hours ahead of the Sun, attaining just 8° in altitude in the North-east at 30 minutes before sunrise.

Venus crosses to the North of the ecliptic on August 2nd. The planet passes 12' (0°.2) North of the star Wasat (Greek lower-case letter 'delta' Gem or Delta Geminorum, mag. +3.5) at 1359 UT on the same day and 10°.0 South of Castor, Gemini's second-brightest star, on August 5th.

At around 0250 UT on August 7th, the constellation's brightest star Pollux, Greek lower-case letter 'kappa' Gem (Kappa Geminorum, mag. +3.5) and Venus form a line 6°.5 in length, aligned roughly celestial North and South. The angular distance between Pollux and  Greek lower-case letter 'kappa' Gem is 3°.6 and that between Greek lower-case letter 'kappa' Gem and Venus is 2°.8. Extending the line some 16°.5 to the South of Venus brings one very close to the bright star Procyon (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' CMi or Alpha Canis Minoris, mag. +0.5) in the constellation of Canis Minor, the Lesser Dog. Venus passes 2°.8 South of Greek lower-case letter 'kappa' Gem itself at around 0610 UT that same day, and 4¾ hours later, the planet passes 6º.5 to the South of Pollux. In 2006 an exoplanet was discovered orbiting Pollux, which is 34 light years distant.

Gibbous Venus imaged by Giovanni Calapai in October 2020 (Image: Giovanni Calapai/ALPO-Japan)Gibbous Venus imaged in ultraviolet light by Giovanni Calapai (Messina, Italy) in October 2020 (click on the thumbnail for a larger version, 4 KB). The planet was 36° West of the Sun, 13".7 across and about 79% illuminated. Calapai used an 11-inch (280 mm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope fitted with a CMOS camera (Image: Giovanni Calapai / ALPO-Japan)

 Venus enters Cancer, the Crab - the faintest of the zodiac constellations - on August 10th. Only the North-western section of the constellation is observable at the present time, visible briefly just before dawn from the Northern Tropics Northwards to about latitude 50° North. At 2050 UT on the same day Castor, Pollux and Venus form a line some 12°.7 in length, orientated SSE-NNW. The line points towards the head of Hydra, the Water Snake, positioned 18° to the SSE of Venus. The alignment is visible in dawn twilight from South-eastern China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Eastern Indonesia.

Venus passes 11°.0 North of Cancer's brightest star Tarf (Greek lower-case letter 'beta' Cnc or Beta Cancri, mag. +3.5) on August 13th. The star is positioned at the South-western corner of the constellation's lambda-shaped (Greek lower-case letter 'lambda') figure. The name Tarf, which is not in common usage, is derived from the Arabic Al Tarf meaning 'the End', i.e. the end of the Crab's leg. The name was approved by the IAU in 2018.

On August 19th Venus passes 38' (0°.63) North of Asellus Australis (Greek lower-case letter 'delta' Cnc or Delta Cancri, mag. +3.9), one of two stars which flank the star cluster Praesepe (M44), in central Cancer, on its Eastern side - the other being Asellus Borealis (Greek lower-case letter 'gamma' Cnc or Gamma Cancri, mag. +4.6), located 3º.3 further North. The planet passes 6º.1 North of Acubens (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' Cnc or Alpha Cancri, mag. +4.3), at the South-eastern corner of the constellation, on August 21st.

By the third week of August Venus is again rising in twilight across the inhabited world. The planet enters Leo, the Lion, on August 26th, its solar elongation falling below 15° on the following day. For most of the Southern hemisphere the 'observing window' has reduced to less than an hour. Venus' high declination puts it in rather better sight of Northern hemisphere observers; the planet rises 1¾ hours before the Sun at 60° North, 1½ hours before the Sun at 50° North and 1¼ hours before the Sun at 30° North, attaining about 8° in altitude some 30 minutes before sunrise.

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2 0 2 2  September

In early September observers at mid-Southern latitudes are the first to lose sight of Venus as it disappears into the bright dawn twilght. From latitudes further North telescopes show the planet with a 97% illuminated gibbous phase, its apparent diameter being just 10". To the naked-eye the planet continues to shine at an apparent visual magnitude of -3.8, as it has done since early July.

Venus crosses the perihelion point in its orbit - when it is closest to the Sun - on September 4th, at a solar distance of 0.7184 AU (107.4 million kms or 66.8 million statute miles). This is the planet's second perihelion crossing of the apparition, taking place 225 days (one Venus orbital period) after the first, back in January.

Venus passes 47' (0°.78) North of Leo's brightest star Regulus (Greek lower-case letter 'alpha' Leo or Alpha Leonis, mag. +1.4) at 0123 UT on September 5th. The passage can only be viewed with difficulty in twilight, low over the ENE horizon, from the Northern Tropics Northwards to about latitude 50° North. Regulus is positioned less than 0°.5 North of the ecliptic so it is occasionally occulted by planets and - more frequently - by the Moon. Venus last occulted Regulus in 1959 and will next occult the star during its morning apparition in 2044.

Venus enters Virgo, the Virgin, on September 24th, by which time it is a mere 8° West of the Sun. The planet becomes lost from view from the rest of the world over the next few days, bringing the 2022 morning apparition to a close. Venus ends the apparition shining at nearly the same apparent magnitude (-3.8) as when it had entered the morning sky in the previous January, the planet now showing a 98% illuminated disk measuring just 9".8 across.

2 0 2 2  October

Now unobservable from across the world, Venus crosses to the South of the celestial equator on October 1st.

In early October Mercury (mag. +0.8) returns to the dawn sky for its third and final morning apparition of 2022 and its sixth of the year overall (including evening apparitions). This apparition favours Northern hemisphere observers. The planet reaches its greatest Western elongation (18° West of the Sun) on October 8th and departs the morning sky around mid-month.

Venus reaches it most distant point from the Earth for this apparition - known as the apogee - on October 20th, when it is 1.7172 AU (256.9 million kms or 159.6 million statute miles) distant.

Venus reaches superior conjunction (passing on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth) in central Virgo on October 22nd. At the moment of conjunction the planet is positioned 1°.0 North of the Sun. Venus is now at a distance of 1.7171 AU (256.8 million kms or 159.6 million miles) from the Earth.

Having passed from the morning to the evening sky, Venus remains out of view - lost in the solar glare - for about a month, as it makes its slow passage on the far side of its orbit from the Earth. The planet becomes visible once again from around mid-November 2022, when it is seen shortly after sunset from Equatorial latitudes as an 'Evening Star' in the Western sky, heralding a new evening apparition (2022-23) which lasts through to August 2023.

 [Terms in yellow italics are explained in greater detail in an associated article describing planetary movements in the night sky.]

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Venus Conjunctions with other Planets:

Morning Apparition, 2022

Viewed from the orbiting Earth, whenever two planets appear to pass each other in the night sky (a line-of-sight effect) the event is known as a planetary conjunction or appulse. Not all planetary conjunctions will be visible from the Earth, however, because many of them take place too close to the Sun. Furthermore, not all of them will be seen from across the world; the observers' latitude will affect the altitude (angle above the horizon) at which the two planets are seen at the time of the event and the local season will affect the sky brightness at that particular time. A flat, unobstructed horizon will normally be required to observe most of them.

Planetary conjunctions are generally considered most noteworthy when they involve two bright planets, and none are more spectacular than those involving Venus. During the course of a typical Venusian apparition, Venus moves through eight or more zodiac constellations and in doing so it passes other planets in the sky - and in the case of Mercury, often on more than one occasion.

Because Venus never appears more than 47° from the Sun, it follows that any planetary conjunction involving Venus will also never occur above this angular distance, i.e. its solar elongation will always be less than 47°. For an Earthbound observer, a superior planet (i.e. Mars and beyond) seen at such a small elongation poses something of a problem, since it will then be considerably more distant from the Earth - and therefore fainter - than when it is closest and brightest in the sky (namely, at opposition, when its elongation is 180° from the Sun). Jupiter is affected to a much lesser extent since it is always above magnitude -1.6 (brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky).

A significant factor in determining whether a planetary conjunction is 'easy' or 'difficult' is the altitude that the fainter planet is positioned as it disappears from view in the dawn twilight. This in turn affects the duration for which the pair are visible before sunrise.

There are six observable conjunctions involving Venus during its 2022 morning apparition. The most visually spectacular of the six takes place on April 30th, when Venus passes just 15' (0°.25) to the South of Jupiter (mag. -1.9). The closeness of the pairing allows both planets to be easily contained within the eyepiece of a small telescope. Jupiter, at 34".8 across, appears twice the apparent size of Venus, however Venus shines 6½ times brighter because Jupiter is 5½ times more distant. The conjunction takes place when Venus is only 4° short of its maximum Western elongation, providing ideal viewing circumstances for Southern hemisphere observers in particular. As the fainter planet (Jupiter) disappears from view in the twilight, observers here see the planets attain an altitude of between 35° (at 45° South) and 40° (at 15° South) above the ENE horizon. Northern hemisphere latitudes see the pair reach between 16° (40° North) and 28° (20° North) above the ESE horizon as Jupiter fades from view, whilst at 50° North the planets attain only 8° above the ESE horizon (from here the planets are seen in continuous twilight from rising to disappearance).

Venus and Jupiter in conjunction in the dawn sky on January 22nd 2019 (Image: Martin J Powell 2019)Venus and Jupiter met in Conjunction on the morning of January 22nd 2019, photographed here by the writer (click on the thumbnail for the full-size image, 63 KB). Venus (the brighter of the two) passed 2°.4 North of Jupiter in the constellation of Ophiuchus.

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The next best planetary conjunction of the apparition is on March 29th 2022, when Venus (mag. -4.2) passes 2°.1 to the North of Saturn (+0.7). Although the conjunction takes place only nine days after Venus' greatest elongation, for Northern hemisphere observers the planets' Southerly position in Capricornus means that the pair are not placed particularly high in the sky when Saturn disappears in the dawn sky. At 50° North they attain an altitude of just 7° above the ESE horizon, whilst at 30° North they only reach 22° high in the ESE. Equatorial and Southern latitudes have the best view; from here the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun, Moon and planets) presents a steep angle to the horizon at dawn at this time of year. At Saturn's disappearance the pair are 38° high in the ESE at the Equator, 41° high in the East at 35° South and 38° high in the ENE at 45° South.

There are two conjunctions of Venus with Mars during the period, both of them widely separated - indeed, they are the two widest of the six conjunctions. The March 12th 2022 conjunction is technically the better of the two, since it has a narrower separation (4°.0), greater horizon altitudes and Venus close to its maximum solar elongation. Venus, at magnitude -4.3, shines 158 times brighter than Mars. Venus can easily be seen in the dawn twilight but Mars disappears from view much sooner. At latitude 50° North the planets are positioned at 9° (Venus) and 5° (Mars) above the South-eastern horizon as Mars disappears from view; here the pair are seen in twilight throughout. At latitude 30° North they are positioned 23° (Venus) and 20° (Mars) high in the South-east as the Red Planet disappears. From the Southern hemisphere the altitudes and directions under the same circumstances are as follows: 41° high in the East at 25° South; 39° (Venus) and 41° (Mars) high in the East at 35° South and 36° (Venus) and 38° (Mars) high in the East at 45° South.

The February 14th 2022 conjunction between Venus and Mars takes place at a narrower solar elongation (39° West) than the March 12th event. The separation of 6°.5 - equivalent to the apparent width of thirteen Full Moons - is so wide that many might not consider it a conjunction at all! Venus, at magnitude -4.5, is shining at its brightest for its 2022 morning apparition. At latitude 50° North the planets are 13° high (Venus) and 7° high (Mars) over the South-eastern horizon at the Red Planet's disappearance; at 30° North the planets are 25° (Venus) and 20° (Mars) above the ESE horizon and at the Equator they are 35° (Venus) and 33° (Mars) above the ESE horizon. In the Southern hemisphere the altitudes and directions at disappearance are: 33° (Venus) and 35° (Mars) in the ESE at latitude 25° South, 30° (Venus) and 33° (Mars) in the East at 35° South and 26° (Venus) and 30° (Mars) in the East at 45° South.

The two conjunctions involving the outermost planets Uranus and Neptune are not observable from mid- and higher Northern latitudes. Twilight quickly renders these so-called ice giants unobservable (even through binoculars) so any conjunctions taking place less than about 20° from the Sun will be difficult or impossible to see. The conjunctions of 2022 are however above that limit, at solar elongations of 34° and 43°, respectively.

Since Uranus and Neptune are the faintest of the observable planets in the night sky and Venus is the brightest, it follows that these conjunctions are technically difficult to observe - regardless of the solar elongation - and optical aid is required to observe such events. Through both telescopes and binoculars, Venus' brilliance means that it must be positioned outside the field of view to enable Uranus and Neptune to be comfortably seen.

At 1907 UT on April 27th 2022 Venus (mag. -4.0) passes a mere 35" (0'.6 or 0º.01) to the South of Neptune (+7.9) - an angular distance equivalent to only two apparent diameters of Venus! This difficult conjunction is not viewable from most of the Northern hemisphere - at latitude 20º North, for example, they attain an altitude of just 12º above the Eastern horizon as Neptune fades from view. Although rising in darkness and at a good solar elongation, the arrival of dawn twilight means that even in the Southern hemisphere the pair do not rise far above the horizon before Neptune disappears from view. From the Equator the pair are placed 21° above the Eastern horizon whilst at 35° South they are 24° high in the ENE. The line-of-sight closeness in this conjunction of the brightest and dimmest planets of our Solar System belies the fact that Neptune is over 31 times more distant than Venus - and 60,000 times fainter! Much more obvious to the naked-eye observer on this occasion is Jupiter, positioned only 2°.8 away to the ENE of the pair and which encounters its own planetary conjunction with Venus only three days later, as described above.

Venus and Uranus (mag. +5.8) are involved in a relatively wide conjunction (1°.6) on June 11th 2022; it is not visible from latitudes North of the Northern Tropics. The solar elongation of 34° is the narrowest of the six conjunctions and, combined with the dawn twilight, means that the two planets do not reach very high altitudes before Uranus disappears from view: from the Equator the pair are placed 15° above the ENE horizon whilst at 35° South they are only 13° high in the ENE.

The six planetary conjunctions involving Venus which are observable during the 2022 morning apparition are detailed in the table below.

Table showing the visible Venus conjunctions with other planets during the morning apparition of 2022. Click for full-size table, 38 KB (Copyright Martin J Powell, 2021)

Venus conjunctions with other planets during the 2022 morning apparition (click on the thumbnail for the full-size table, 38 KB) The column headed 'UT' is the Universal Time (equivalent to GMT) of the conjunction (in hrs : mins). The separation (column 'Sep') is the angular distance between the two planets, measured relative to Venus, e.g. on 2022 Mar 29 Saturn is positioned 2°.1 South of Venus at the time shown. The 'Fav. Hem' column shows the Hemisphere in which the conjunction is best observed (Northern, Southern and/or Equatorial). The 'Con' column shows the constellation in which the planets are positioned at the time of the conjunction.

Although any given conjunction takes place at a particular instant in time, it is worth pointing out that, because of the planets' relatively slow daily motions, such events are interesting to observe for several days both before and after the actual conjunction date.

There are in fact two methods of defining a planetary conjunction date: one is measured in Right Ascension (i.e. perpendicular to the celestial equator) and the other is measured along the ecliptic, which is inclined at 23½° to the Earth's equatorial plane (this is due to the tilt of the Earth's axis in space). An animation showing how conjunction dates are determined by each method can be found on the Jupiter-Uranus 2010-11 triple conjunction page. Although conjunctions measured along the ecliptic can be significantly closer, the Right Ascension method is the more commonly used, and it is the one which is adopted here.

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Moon near Venus Dates,

January to August 2022

The Moon is easy to find, and on one or two days in each month, it passes Venus in the sky. Use the following tables to see on which dates the Moon passes near the planet during its 2022 morning apparition:

Moon near Venus dates for the morning apparition of 2022 (click for full-size image, 26 KB)Moon near Venus dates for the morning apparition of 2022 (click on the thumbnail for the full-size table, 26 KB). The Date Range shows the range of dates worldwide (allowing for Time Zone differences across East and West hemispheres). Note that the dates, times and separations at conjunction (i.e. when the two bodies are at the same Right Ascension) are measured from the Earth's centre (geocentric) and not from the Earth's surface (times are Universal Time [UT], equivalent to GMT). The Sep. & Dir. column gives the angular distance (separation) and direction of the planet relative to the Moon, e.g. on April 27th 2022 at 01:50 UT, Venus is positioned 3°.8 North of the Moon's centre.

Because Venus never appears more than 47° from the Sun, the Moon always shows a crescent phase whenever it passes the planet in the sky: a waxing crescent during evening apparitions and a waning crescent during morning apparitions.

A waning crescent Moon and Venus photographed on the morning of September 14th 2020 (click for full-size image, 117 KB) (Photo: Copyright Martin J Powell, 2020)The Waning Crescent Moon and Venus in the Eastern sky before dawn, photographed by the writer on September 14th 2020 (click on the thumbnail for the full-size image, 117 KB). Venus was positioned 3°.9 South of the Moon, as seen from the South-western United Kingdom. Note the effect of earthshine on the unlit portion of the Moon, caused by the Earth's reflected light. A naked-eye effect called irradiation causes the brightly lit crescent to appear part of a larger disk than that of the unlit portion of the Moon.

Because Venus never appears more than 47° from the Sun, the Moon always shows a crescent phase whenever it passes the planet in the sky: a waxing crescent during evening apparitions and a waning crescent during morning apparitions.

The Moon moves relatively quickly against the background stars in an Eastward direction, at about its own angular width (0º.5) each hour (about 12º.2 per day). Because it is relatively close to the Earth, an effect called parallax causes it to appear in a slightly different position (against the background stars) when seen from any two locations on the globe at any given instant; the further apart the locations, the greater the Moon's apparent displacement against the background stars. Therefore, for any given date and time listed in the table, the Moon will appear closer to Venus when seen from some locations than others. For this reason, the dates shown in the table should be used only for general guidance.

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Naked-eye Venus: Apparitions, Conjunctions and Elongations

The Position of Venus, 2022 (Desktop Site)

The Naked-Eye Planets in the Night Sky

Planetary Movements through the Zodiac


Mercury

Venus

Mars

Jupiter

Saturn

Uranus

Neptune

Pluto


Credits


Copyright  Martin J Powell  January 2022


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