Venus as a Morning Star, 2012-2013


This appearance of Venus has concluded.

After the historic Transit of Venus on June 5, 2012, Venus rapidly moves into the morning sky becoming a “Morning Star” for the rest of 2012.

In a dramatic view, a setting sun with Venus in transit passes behind clouds on June 5, 2012.

The above chart, developed from U.S. Naval Observatory data, shows the difference in time between Venus rising and sunrise through March 2013.  During June 2012 and  early July, Venus rises during morning twilight.  Venus rises earlier than the sun until early 2013 until Venus disappears behind the sun in March.

As Venus zooms into darker predawn skies, it is a gleaming object, easily outshining all other celestial objects besides the moon (and the sun).  On July 12, Venus appears at its brightest in this morning appearance (apparition), rising nearly 2.5 hours before the sun.  It stands in the low in the eastern sky as the predawn sky brightens.  By August 15, Venus reaches its maximum angular distance from the sun (greatest elongation west) and rises about 3.5 hours before sunrise.  By the end of August, Venus rises about 3.75 hours before the sun and thereafter, rises earlier each day until it disappears in bright during in January 2013 to pass behind the sun (superior conjunction) on March 28, 2013.

Until then, Venus will appear with bright stars and planets.  Here are some highlights of the predawn events:

  • June and July 2012:  Look for Venus with Jupiter and Aldebaran.  (See our monthly updates:  January 2013)
Venus and Jupiter, July 4, 2012
(Click the image to see it larger.)
  • July 9, 2012:  Venus appears near the star Aldebaran, passing about two full-moon widths (0.9 angular degrees) north of the star.
Venus, Jupiter, Aldebaran and the Pleiades, July 9, 2012
(Click the image to see it larger)
  • July 12, 2012: Venus reaches greatest brilliancy for this morning appearance, making it over 11 times brighter than Jupiter and nearly 175 times brighter than Aldebaran.
Venus, Jupiter, Aldebaran and the Pleiades, July 12, 2012
(Click the image to see it larger)
  • August 9, 2012:  Venus reaches Greatest Elongation West, the largest angular separation between the sun and the planet.  Venus rises nearly 3.5 hours before the sun and is high in the sky as the early morning sky brightens.

Venus nearing Greatest Elongation West on August 8.
(Skies for the writer were cloudy on August 9.)

  • September 1, 2012: Venus passes Pollux.

Venus nearing its closest approach to Pollux, August 31, 2012.
(The sky was cloudy for this observer on September 1, 2012.)

  • September 7, 2012:  Venus appears along a line drawn through Castor and Pollux in Gemini.

Venus approaches alignment with Castor and Pollux on September 6, 2012
(The sky was cloudy and rainy for this writer on September 7, 2012)

  • September 13, 2012:  Venus passes the Beehive star cluster in Cancer.

This chart shows Venus passing the Beehive star cluster
on September 13, 2012.

  • October 3, 2012:  Venus and Regulus make a close grouping.

Venus and Regulus on October 6
(The sky was cloudy for several days around October 3 for this observer.)

  • November 16, 2012:  Venus and Spica appear near each other.

Venus and Spica, November 13, 2012

  • November 27, 2012:  Venus and Saturn appear near each other.

November 27, 2012:  Venus and Saturn are separated
by less than one degree.

  • Early December , 2012:  Mercury joins Venus  in the morning sky for a few days.  On December 11, the moon makes a nice grouping with the planetary pair.  See the moon section below.

Under a clear sky, VenusMercury, and Saturn shine from the southeastern sky this morning (December 5, 2012) as seen in this 15-second exposure image made at 6:05 a.m. CST from the Chicago Area.

Brilliant Venus outshines all other starlike objects in the sky. This morning, Venus appears close to Zubenelgenubi(Libra) with Zubeneschamali nearby as indicated by the arrows.

Elusive Mercury appears low in the sky, about 8 degrees to the lower left of Venus, and can be seen without binoculars before the beginning of bright twilight. It appears below Venus for the next week or so and then disappears into the sun’s glare.

Saturn appears about 10 degrees to the upper right of Venus with Spica (Virgo) higher and farther toward the south, about 23 degrees to the upper right of Venus.

  • December 23, 2012:  Venus is north of Antares.
Notice that Mars does not appear with Venus in the morning sky throughout this period.  Mars is in the evening sky until it passes behind the sun in April 2013.

The moon makes close groupings with Venus on the mornings of:
  • July 15, 2012
This chart shows the clustering of Venus, Jupiter, Aldebaran,
and the Moon on July 15, 2012
  • August 13, 2012

Skies were cloudy and raining on August 13 in the Chicago area
Here is a view of the moon’s position with the planets on August 12, 2012
(Click the image to see it larger.)

  • September12, 2012

Under partly cloudy skies, Venus and the moon appeared about 5 degrees apart
(Click the image to see it larger.)

  • October 12, 2012

In a cobalt blue predawn sky, a waning crescent moon appears
6 degrees to the lower right of Venus
By clicking the image to see it larger, notice the “Earthshine” on
the moon’s nighttime side.

  • November 11, 2012

Venus and the waning crescent moon shine in the southeastern sky.
Click the image to see “Earthshine” on the moon.

  • December 11, 2012

Moon joins Venus and a cast of Mercury, Saturn,
and Spica.

  • January 10, 2013 , although this occurs in bright morning twilight.

In addition Venus’ rising place along the eastern horizon changes as shown in the above chart.  Since Venus never appears in the sky at midnight, like Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, Venus somewhat mirrors the sun’s changing rising position.  Venus rises north of east until November 1; thereafter, it rises south of east, making its maximum southern rising of this apparition January 3 through January 13, 2013.  By then it will be rising in bright twilight and very difficult to see.

Take note of Venus in the morning sky throughout the rest of this year.

Specific details for Venus can be found in each month’s skywatching outlook: