Farewell, Venus

Photos – taken through telescopes, or with other optical aid – from the EarthSky community. The brightest planet Venus is now in a thin crescent phase as viewed from Earth. Venus will go between us and the sun on June 3.

View through a circular eyepiece of 2 bright objects, with the central object obscured by a disk, and the second object - Venus - to one side.

The veteran SOHO spacecraft’s Lasco camera captured this image on June 1, 2020. In the center, obscured by an occulting disk is our sun. The bright object to the sun’s upper left is the planet Venus, preparing to pass between us and the sun on June 3. Shoutout to Helio Vital for emailing this image to us; at the same time as this image, Helio captured Venus in our sky, in daylight, deeply buried in the sun’s glare. See that image below.

A yellow background, a treeline, and an exceedingly faint and partial crescent Venus.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Helio Vital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil captured Venus on June 1! The planet can be seen near the center of the image, just above the treeline. It was in the afternoon, in daylight. Venus was only 0.1% illuminated as seen from Earth, and only 3.1 degrees away from the sun in our sky. Amazing shot, Helio, thank you! Read more about this image.

Very thin white crescent against gray background.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Vlad Dumitrescu in Romania caught the extremely narrow crescent of Venus on May 31, 2020. Vlad wrote: “I had a window of a few hours to shoot Venus at 57.5 arcseconds diameter and 0.4% illumination after a couple of rainy days … At less than 5 degrees from the sun and with half the mirror of my Newtonian lit by our big ball of plasma, it was an incredible sight … the blue velvet sky and the bright thin crescent looked like something out of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.” You’ll need optical aid to find Venus after sunset in the coming days. Venus will pass between us and the sun on June 3 and afterwards reappear in the morning sky. Thank you, Vlad!

Very thin, barely visible crescent against yellow sky with bird in flight near it.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Helio C. Vital caught this amazing photo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 29, 2020. Helio wrote: “The photo shows Venus, only 0.9% illuminated, next to a vulture flying by at 17:49 (UTC -3h). Venus was 4° above the horizon at sunset and 7.8° away from the Sun. A Nikon CoolPix P900 camera was used with no telescope attached.” Thank you, Helio.

Very thin, barely visible crescent against black sky.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Jose Lagos in Vaals, Netherlands, caught the very thin crescent of Venus on May 29, 2020. Jose wrote: “This is Venus, 0.93% illuminated. Less than 1 % illuminated. Venus is deeper into the Sun’s glare, making it harder to find, harder to see clearly because of the thicker summer atmosphere near the horizon, and leaving less time to try to see and photograph it before it sets, soon after the sun. With phone aps like “Daff Moon”, and with experience of which trees correspond to which altitude and azimuth angles, I am still able to stay on top of Venus in this game of celestial limbo – How low can you go?” Thank you, Jose!

A very thin crescent Venus, slightly blotchy and multicolored.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Jose Lagos in Vaals, Netherlands, captured this image on May 27, 2020. He wrote: “Growing slimmer and slimmer, setting sooner after the sun and falling faster and faster [toward the sunset point], Venus is about to pass between the Earth and the sun. It’s a challenging hunt to see and catch this prey before it escapes under the horizon, but well worth it. I just hope the cool, clear, crisp, cloudless weather holds up until the end of Venus’ waning. See it for yourself! Thank you to EarthSky for your much-appreciated work, which is enjoyed by so many, all over the world.” Thank you, Jose!

Venus through a telescope, in a mosaic, it looks like, with a cross on a ridgeline.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Andrew Dare in Cusco, Peru, captured this image on May 26 and wrote: “I have been following Venus getting rapidly closer to the sun each night – and have been amazed at how much it changes each night. Just a few days ago, I could see it clearly in the daytime, but now it’s getting very hard to see at all. Being stuck in the coronavirus curfew of Peru, I was waiting and hoping it would pass close to the cross on the hill, so I could capture it from my terrace. Tonight was the night!” Thank you, Andrew.

A series of crescent Venuses, extending from upper left to lower right (Venus setting over time).

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Astronomer Fred Espenak created this image sequence on May 26. He wrote: “The altitude of Venus is rapidly decreasing each evening as the planet approaches inferior conjunction with the sun (i.e., passing between Earth and sun) on June 3. Venus is also increasing in angular size as it comes closer to Earth while becoming a razor thin crescent. All of this makes for a good opportunity to shoot a time sequence of the brilliant crescent Venus setting behind the Chiricahua Mountains as seen from my backyard in Portal, Arizona. The biggest problem is that the air is very turbulent while viewing Venus at such a low altitude, so it’s difficult to get a sharp focus.” Thank you, Fred!

Diagram of Venus's phases and positions in the sky over several months.

This chart by Guy Ottewell (via his blog) depicts Venus’ disk size and phase – best seen through a telescope – in the evening sky from the planet’s superior conjunction (August 14, 2019, when it was on the far side of the sun from us) to inferior conjunction (June 3, 2020, when it’ll pass between us and the sun).

Two narrow crescents with text.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Radu Anghel in Bacau, Romania, caught these images a week apart on May 11 and May 18, 2020. Radu wrote: “Phases of Venus. Differences in 7 days. As Venus is getting towards the inferior solar conjunction (June 3) and it will hide in the Sun’s glare, it’s shape is easy to spot even with a pair of binoculars. (Just be careful at the sun! Try to spot it during the daytime using the shadow of a building to cover the sun).” Thank you, Radu.

Colorful crescent on black background.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Victor C. Rogus caught another view of the crescent Venus from Sedona, Arizona, on May 17, 2020. He wrote: “Getting close to the sun, Venus is becoming a large slender crescent.”

Multicolored crescent on black background.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Jose Lagos captured the crescent Venus from Vaals in the Netherlands on May 17, 2020. Jose wrote: “Venus at 9% illumination, seen live and up close, is very enchanting for its large, elegant form, high contrast, scintillating brightness. This rough photo doesn’t capture what only can be properly enjoyed through live viewing with your own eyes. Don’t miss the upcoming conjunction with Mercury!” Thank you, Jose.

Diagram showing planet at different locations on its orbit and phases as viewed from Earth.

Why does Venus look like a crescent now? Just before and after superior conjunction last August – when Venus swept behind the sun from Earth – we saw a nearly full Venus. Inferior conjunction – when Venus will sweep between us and the sun – will happen next on June 3, 2020. Just before and after, we see a crescent Venus. Image via UCLA.

Thin white crescent on black background.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Patrick Prokop captured the crescent Venus from Savannah, Georgia, on May 15, 2020. He wrote: “No, you’re not seeing a photo of the moon, instead this is the planet Venus … that very bright object in the WNW evening sky. Venus is nearly between the Earth and the sun which is why we are seeing this crescent phase, like what we see with the moon. Venus is now about 31 million miles away. By June 3rd, it will be directed between the Earth and the sun at a distance from us of 27 million miles. However, we won’t be able to see it by then. Venus is rapidly setting earlier each evening by a rate of about 5 minutes per night. (I took this image with the Celestron 11″ EdgeHD telescope at f/7 using the best 200 frames from a 4,000 frame recording using a program called Autostakkert!).” Thank you, Patrick.

Small white crescent in slate blue sky.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Luis E. Rodriguez captured the crescent Venus from Puerto Rico on May 14, 2020. Luis wrote: “Taken from Puerto Rico about 30 minutes ago before sunset and using a moon filter.”

Large thin crescent with lunar features and small thin featureless crescent.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Some people are surprised to learn that Venus sometimes appears as a crescent from our earthly vantage point. But indeed it does. Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona, captured an image of Venus (left, inset) on May 13, 2020, and contrasted it, in this montage, with a photo of a crescent moon (right). Thank you, Eliot!

Crescent moon and several phases of Venus.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Adrian Mann in Tiszaszentimre, Hungary, created this composite to show the phases and apparent size of Venus from March 5 to May 12, 2020, along with the moon (large crescent at top), Jupiter, and Saturn. Adrian wrote: “Phases on Venus from 5th March to 12 May 2020, with the moon, Jupiter & Saturn at the same scale. The quality is a bit ‘variable’ as I’m still getting to grips with astrophotography, and Jupiter & Saturn were very, very low, and hence very blurry! I put them in just to show the relative sizes.”

Narrow crescent with faint red along the convex side and blue on the other.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Victor C. Rogus of Sedona, Arizona, caught Venus as a waning crescent on May 11, 2020. He wrote: “It is becoming thinner!” Indeed, it is. And Venus will continue to wane in phase for the rest of this month, as it drops closer and closer to the sunset each evening. It will finally go between us and the sun on June 3, afterwards re-emerging into the morning sky. Thank you, Victor!

A round field of view - looks like in daylight - with a crescent Venus.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Andrew Dare in Cusco, Peru, caught Venus in daylight through a telescope on May 11. He said he was: “… keen to take a picture of Venus, so I borrowed the neighbors basic telescope, but still had no attachments, so I tried the ‘telescope mode’ on a compact camera and found I could, with great difficulty, focus on the planet through the eyepiece. It’s especially satisfying to see the crescent shape of another planet in the daytime.” Thanks, Andrew!

Thin crescent Venus against a blue sky.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Radu Anghel in Bacau, Romania, caught Venus in daylight on May 11, too. He wrote: “Venus in daylight, 15% illuminated on May 11, 2020 – 1:00 p.m.” Thank you, Radu!

Sharp, thin crescent Venus.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Aurelian Neacsu in Visina, Dambovita County, Romania, caught Venus as a 15.9% illuminated crescent on May 10, 2020. Thank you, Aurelian.

Tiny bright crescent on black background.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Dion Rust – Subsonic0 (@trent900uk on Twitter) – posted this beautiful crescent Venus photo to EarthSky’s Twitter feed. Dion wrote: “Managed a quick snap of it last week. It’s a lovely crescent at the moment so if anyone can have a look it’s worth it.” It was taken May 7, 2020, from East Hertfordshire, U.K. Thanks, Dion!

Fuzzy white fattish crescent on a black background.

View larger at EarthSky Community Photos. | Alan Schmeelk caught the crescent Venus from Easley, South Carolina, on April 11, 2020. Thank you, Alan!

Bottom line: Photos of Venus in a waning crescent phase from the EarthSky Community, plus a diagram showing the phases of Venus during its evening apparition of late 2019 and early 2020, and, also, a diagram illustrating why Venus changes in phase.

Deborah Byrd