2018, October 26: Venus at Inferior Conjunction

The thin crescent of Venus as viewed
through a small telescope appears at the
upper left of the planet.  The crescent
is about 1% illuminated.

Important: Never look directly at the sun.  A Binocular or a small telescope might be needed to initially locate Venus. Do not to point any optical instrument at the sun. The light collecting properties of the binocular or a telescope can damage the device or cause irreparable damage to eyes if you are looking through them. With optical help from a telescope, Venus displays a very thin crescent.

At conjunction on October 26, 2018, Venus is 6.5° south of the sun.  In a clear sky, it could be visible to the unaided eye.  Stand under an overhang that blocks the sun to see it.  Carefully observe Venus through a telescope, because of its proximity to the sun, as noted above.  Venus displays a very thin crescent that is less than 1% illuminated.  The planet is 0.27 Astronomical Units away from Earth and displays a whopping 61” angular size, although this is about 3% of the moon’s apparent diameter.

After conjunction, Venus seemingly leaps into the morning sky. It appears to be chasing Spica. In just two weeks after moving between the earth and sun, this brilliant planet rises at the beginning of twilight.  The Spica chase continues until mid-November, as Venus approaches its greatest brightness.  Venus does not reach Spica, but passes within 1.2° during mid-November, a quasi-conjunction.  See the full article about the appearance of Venus here.