Still low in the sky during brighter twilight, brilliant Venus moves through Cancer and Leo. Mars enters the scene (within 10°) as it moves toward its solar conjunction. As the ecliptic’s angle with the western horizon decreases, the Venusian setting time interval shrinks several minutes until late August. Venus passes the Red Planet (July 12) and Regulus (July 21). A binocular is needed to make observations of conjunctions with the dimmer stars.
As June turns into July, brilliant Venus is low in the west during evening twilight. The planet is moving through Cancer and the gap between Venus and Mars closes.
For those who want to read more details about the planet with the dimmer stars see this summary.
On July 3, Mars and Venus are 5.5° apart. In nine evenings, Venus catches the slower moving Mars and passes it.
Three nights later (July 6), Venus and Saturn are at opposition. We normally note when a planet farther from the sun than Earth is at opposition with the sun. The planet rises when the sun sets. This evening Venus sets as Saturn rises. In a few evenings and until Venus disappears into the sun’s glare early next year, the two planets are in the sky together. Later this month, Venus and Jupiter are at opposition.
The gap between Venus and Mars closes. Each planet is moving eastward compared to the starry background, but Venus moves eastward nearly twice (1.89x) as far as Mars each day.
By July 8, the Venus – Mars gap is only 2.6°.
On July 11, Venus – over 8° above the west-northwest horizon – is 5.3° to the left of the crescent moon that is only 4% illuminated. The Venus-Mars gap is 1.0°.
The next evening, Venus passes 0.5° to the upper right of the Red Planet. This conjunction occurs only about 8° up in the west-northwest. The crescent moon is 6.7° to the upper left of Venus.
On July 13, Venus is still close to Mars, 0.5° above Mars, but slightly more distant than last night. This evening, Venus is within 10° of the star Regulus, to the upper left of the brilliant planet.
Four nights later, Venus is within 5° of Regulus.
Venus and Jupiter are at opposition on July 21. Like Venus and Saturn earlier in the month, Venus and Jupiter are 180° apart. Jupiter rises in the eastern sky as Venus sets in the western sky. In a week or so, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, along with fading Mars, are in the sky at the same time.
On this evening Venus passes 1.0° to the upper right of Regulus. Mars is to the lower right of Venus and the star.
Venus continues its eastward dance through Leo, passing Rho Leonis on July 27. (Use a binocular).
On August 8, Venus passes Denebola. The gap is 11.2°.
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