2021: Venus as an Evening Star

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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.

2021, May 29: Brilliant Venus shines from the west-northwest after sunset. Mercury, with some magnification, is visible to the lower right of Venus.

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, June 15: Moon, Sickle of Leo

June 15, 2021:  The moon is with the Sickle of Leo this evening.  Step outside about an hour after sunset to find the crescent moon that is about 30% illuminated over one-third of the way up in the west.

2021, July 12: Venus – Mars Conjunction

July 12, 2021:  Venus – Mars conjunction evening.  Evening Star Venus passes 0.5° to the upper right of the Red Planet.  The crescent moon is nearby. This is the first of three conjunctions of Venus and Mars – a triple conjunction.

2021, July 1, Saturn – Mars Opposition

July 1, 2021:  Saturn and Mars are in opposite directions in the sky.  Mars sets as Saturn rises. In about a week, the two planets are visible in the sky at the same time.  This event signals that the planet parade is starting to reorganize. During July, three other planet – planet oppositions occur, leading up to a challenging view of the five bright planets during mid-August.

2021, June 13: Moon Passes Mars

June 13, 2021:  After sunset, look for the thin crescent moon near Mars.  The lunar sliver is also to the upper left of the star Pollux.



Categories: Astronomy, Feature, Sky Watching

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