2017, April: Venus Zooms Into Morning Sky

During April, Venus rapidly climbs into the morning sky, At the beginning of the month, it is already rising about an hour ahead of the sun.  By month’s end it rises nearly 100 minutes before the sun.

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Update: Venus on April 2, 2017.

As Venus climbs higher in the sky, it grows in brightness — nearly 60% during the month.

On April 15, Venus enters a nearly 30-day period when it is at its brightest, with May 1 as the midpoint.  Venus at its brightest when it is near our planet, so that it appears large through a telescope and it is at a phase (yes, Venus shows phases like the moon) so that its highly reflective clouds appear to make it gleam brightest in the skies of Earth.

On the morning of April 23, the waning crescent moon appears about 8 degrees to the lower left of Venus.

During April Venus appears at its brightest for this appearance.

For more about the appearance of Venus and other planets see the following articles:

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2017, April 7: Jupiter at Opposition

Jupiter reaches opposition on April 7, 2017. The giant planet rises in the east at sunset. The chart above shows the planet with Spica and the constellation Corvus in the southeast about 100 minutes after sunset (the end of twilight).  Jupiter is 7 degrees from Spica.

At opposition our planet passes between the outer planet and the sun.  Jupiter and the sun are on opposite sides of Earth.  When the sun sets in the west, Jupiter rises in the east.  As our planet rotates, Jupiter appears higher in the east.  At midnight it is south, opposite the time when the sun is south:  noon.  Jupiter begins to descend in the western sky, setting in the west as the sun rises in the eastern sky.

At this opposition Jupiter is nearly 415 million miles away from us.  This planet has highly reflective clouds and appears as the fourth brightest object in the sky, after the sun, moon, and Venus.

On the evening of April 10, the nearly full moon appears 3 degrees to the lower left of Jupiter.

For more about the planets’ appearances, see other articles in this list: