Venus has a prominent display in the evening sky, appearing with the crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter. Later in the apparition, it groups with the moon, Mercury, Mars, and Regulus.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Venus begins a slow entry into the western evening sky after its superior conjunction on October 22, 2022, that carries it through August 13, 2023, when it passes through inferior conjunction and into the morning sky.
The apparition is very favorable, with setting time intervals nearly reaching three hours, forty-five minutes. Conjunctions occur with bright stars near the ecliptic, including Aldebaran and Pollux, along with a quasi-conjunction with Regulus.
A quasi-conjunction occurs when a planet approaches another planet or star, but the first planet does not pass the second object. The gap between the two shrinks to less than 5.0°.
Venus has conjunctions with Saturn and Jupiter, as well as a quasi-conjunction with Mars. The brilliant planet also passes Neptune, Uranus, Pleiades, Messier 35, and Beehive.
Near the beginning of the apparition, Venus is part of a five-bright-planet display with the moon in the western sky. From the sunset point, the order is Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.
Here’s a month-by-month outlook:
Venus makes a slow, brilliant entrance in the western evening sky. Beginning at the end of November, the five bright planets are visible but not likely simultaneously, especially with Saturn’s brightness. Venus and Mars are at opposition on 30th. Venus sets as Mars rises While Venus is bright evening twilight, it becomes visible in the evening sky with Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars until late January 2023. The 30th is also Mars opposition with the sun.
Venus continues to climb into the evening sky. Mercury climbs faster and all five planets are visible after sunset, but not at the same time early during the month. During the 7th-18th, Venus sets at its most southerly azimuth, 237°. During December 24-28 look for the five planets with the crescent moon.
Venus quickly steps eastward compared to the starry background. It closes the gap to Saturn and passes it on January 22. The next evening, the moon joins Venus and Saturn.
Moving eastward in Aquarius, Venus crosses into Pisces at midmonth and begins to close in on Jupiter. On the way, Venus passes Neptune on the 14th. Beginning on the 20th, Venus is within 10° of Jupiter. The planet skips across Cetus on the 26th as it runs down the Jovian Giant. During the month, the Evening Star gains over 30 minutes of setting time, 153 minutes after sundown at month’s end.
Venus passes Jupiter on the 1st. The conjunction is nearly 20° up in the west-southwest. After the 11th, the Venus-Jupiter gap is more than 10°. Venus quickly crosses the eastern section of Pisces and moves into Aries on the 16th, passing Hamal, Aries brightest star, on the 23rd. On the 30th, it passes Uranus.
Venus moves into Taurus on the 7th. Choose your favorite stars and watch the planet pass by. It moves toward the Pleiades, passing the cluster’s brightest star on the 10th. Use a binocular to watch the planet move through the rich Taurus starfields, passing Aldebaran on the 19th.
Setting over three hours after sundown, brilliant Venus stands high in the western sky at nightfall. The planet quickly steps eastward at nearly 1.1° each night. Still near the Bull’s horns, Venus continues its rapid eastward step. Moving into Gemini on the 7th, it passes Messier 35 and the bright Milky Way regions of the constellation. The moon moves through later in the month as Venus approaches Pollux, passing the star on the 29th. The planet loses nearly 25 minutes of setting time during May. Beginning on the 3rd and extending through the 15th, Venus sets at its most northerly azimuth, 307°.
Venus moves into Cancer on the 3rd, about 10° to the lower right of Mars. Venus reaches its greatest elongation (45.4°) on the 4th. It passes the Beehive cluster (M44) on the 13th. The moon passes on the 21st. Venus crosses into Leo on the 26th. The planet’s eastward step slows to an average of 0.83° each night, while losing 65 minutes of setting time during the month. Venus is quickly closing the gap to the Red Planet, but the apparition seems to stall as Venus never catches Mars. This results in a quasi-conjunction (3.6°) on the 29th. It begins its phase of greatest brightness on the same night.
Brilliant Venus shines from the western sky, reaching its greatest illuminated extent on the 6th. The planet’s crescent covers the largest area of the sky. Venus quickly slows its eastern step to 0.34° each day until it begins to retrograde on the 22nd. As Mars marches away from the slowing Venus after their quasi-conjunction last month, the Evening Star does not reach Regulus, resulting in a quasi-conjunction on the 16th. On the 19th and 20th, the moon joins the scene, making pretty groupings with Mercury, Venus, Regulus, and Mars. Use a binocular to see dimmer Regulus and Mars. The planet quickly disappears into bright evening twilight
Venus reaches its inferior conjunction on August 13 and races into the morning sky.