2021: Venus as an Evening Star


Venus is the brilliant Evening star, shining in the western sky after sunset during 2021. Venus is the bright star in the western sky for most of the year.

2020, May 22: Venus, Mercury, and Elnath make a compact triangle. Venus is 1.6° to the lower right of Mercury; Venus is 3.8° below Elnath; and the Mercury – Elnath gap is 3.4°.

Above: Venus during its 2019-2020 evening appearance.

Bookmark this page to check back on a gallery of images from this appearance of Venus.

Articles about Venus:

After the vernal equinox, Venus begins an evening apparition that is difficult to observe during the first three months. The planet’s visibility seems to lag after its superior conjunction on March 26, 2021.  Nearly a month later, it sets at Civil Twilight, coinciding with its first evening appearance in the west-northwest.

During the apparition, the planet first appears farther north along the horizon and then gently moves southward during the summer and early autumn. It sets at its farthest north point during late May and continues leaving the sky there for nearly three weeks. Until about the autumnal equinox, the planet is only about 10° up in the sky around 45 minutes after sunset.

Venus moves eastward along the ecliptic compared to the starry background until December 18.  During the next three weeks, until the planet’s inferior conjunction, Venus loses 134 minutes of setting time, over 6 minutes each evening.

Highlights of the planet’s evening appearance include three Mercury conjunctions, and conjunctions with Pollux, Mars, Regulus, Spica, and Antares.  While a challenge, Venus appears near the Beehive star cluster (July 2). Near mid-August a difficult view of the five bright planets is possible, although Mercury and Mars are very low in the western sky during bright twilight. Venus’ low celestial latitude places it among the stars of the classic Scorpion and the Teapot of Sagittarius later in the year.

During this apparition the crescent moon appears nine times with Venus.  The closest (1.2°) occurs on May 12.  The second closest (2.6°) occurs on October 9. The widest (11.5°) occurs January 3, 2022, five days before the Venusian planet’s inferior conjunction. The December 6 Venus – moon grouping (3.2°) should be very attractive to photographers with the moon only 10% illuminated near a dazzling Venus, during its interval of greatest brightness.

For the notes that follow, each entry tracks the planet’s magnitude, angular diameter, phase as the percent of the planet that is illuminated, its distance from Earth in Astronomical Units (AU) and the interval it sets after sunset – expressed in minutes (m).  When the moon is included in a note, its age in days (d) and fraction illuminated as a percent are listed. The time interval for the first four observations on the list is 30 minutes after sunset. Then, the window shifts to 45 minutes after sunset. 

Venus as an Evening Star, semi-technical summary

Venus as an Evening Star Article

2021, April 30: Evening Star, Venus, Mercury, Mars

April 30, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are low in the west-northwest after sunset.  Venus is beginning its evening appearance and Mercury is enroute to its best evening appearance of the year.  After night falls, Mars is in the west in Gemini.  Through a binocular, Mars is visible near the star cluster Messier 35.

2021, April 29: Evening Star Venus, Mercury, Mars in Gemini

April 29, 2021: Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are in the west-northwest during bright twilight.  As the sky darkens, Mars is at the feet of Gemini in the western sky.  Through a binocular the Red Planet is above the star cluster Messier 35.

2021, April 28: Evening Star Venus, Mercury, Mars, Moon

April 28, 2021: Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are low in the west-northwest during bright evening twilight.  Later during the evening, Mars is at the feet of Gemini.  Use a binocular to spot the star cluster Messier 35 below the Red Planet.  Near midnight, the moon is in the southeast near Antares.

Categories: Astronomy, Feature, Sky Watching

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