Astronomy Essentials

Venus before sunrise: Greatest elongation October 23, 2023

Sky chart of bright Venus and many labeled constellations and stars.
Venus before sunrise. Venus will be at greatest elongation – farthest from the sunrise – on October 23, 2023. Look for Venus in the sunrise direction before dawn breaks as the sky is lightening. If you have a dark sky look for the constellation Leo the Lion in the direction of Venus. Image via Stellarium.

Venus will be farthest from the sunrise in October 2023. For the Northern Hemisphere, it’ll be the 2nd planet’s best morning apparition for the year.

When to watch: Venus races between the Earth and sun in August 2023, then emerges quickly into the east before sunrise, to remain visible there until around May 2024. Greatest elongation – when Venus will be farthest from the sunrise – is mid- to late October 2023.
Where to look: Look in the sunrise direction while the sky is still dark or just getting light. You can’t miss Venus as the very bright morning “star.”
Greatest elongation is at 16 UTC on October 23, 2023 (source: AstroPixels). Venus’s distance from sun on the sky’s dome is 46 degrees.
Greatest elongation magnitude: Venus shines with dazzling brightness at magnitude -4.4.
Through a telescope: Venus appears 50% illuminated, in a 3rd quarter phase, 24 arcseconds across.
Note: As the sun’s 2nd planet, Venus is bound by an invisible tether to the sun in our sky. It’s always east before sunrise, or west after sunset (never overhead at midnight). Venus is the brightest planet visible from Earth and shines brilliantly throughout every morning or evening apparition. Greatest elongation happens when Venus is farthest from the sun on the sky’s dome. At the October 2023 greatest elongation, Venus will appear higher in the sky from the Northern Hemisphere than from the Southern Hemisphere due to the steep angle of the ecliptic (path of the sun, moon and planets) on autumn mornings.

Check out the 2023 EarthSky lunar calendar. A unique and beautiful poster-sized calendar showing phases of the moon every night of the year. It makes a great  gift.

For precise sun and Venus rising times at your location:

Old Farmer’s Almanac (U.S. and Canada)

timeanddate.com (worldwide).

Stellarium (free online planetarium program)

Venus after sunrise in 2023 Northern Hemisphere

Thin crescent becomes smaller and grows to a gibbous shape in a loop from the lower left horizon, loops up to the right and curves back towards the horizon..
View larger. | Venus’s greatest morning elongation in 2023 from the Northern Hemisphere as viewed through a powerful telescope. Greatest elongation will come on October 23. The planet images are at the 1st, 11th, and 21st of each month. Dots show the actual positions of Venus every day. Chart via Guy Ottewell’s 2023 Astronomical Calendar. Used with permission.

Venus after sunrise in 2023 Southern Hemisphere

Thin crescent becomes smaller but grows to a gibbous shape in a loop from the horizon, up to the left and to the right.
View larger. | Venus’s greatest morning elongation in 2023 from the Southern Hemisphere as viewed through a powerful telescope. Greatest elongation will come on October 23. The planet images are at the 1st, 11th, and 21st of each month. Dots show the actual positions of Venus every day. Chart via Guy Ottewell’s 2023 Astronomical Calendar. Used with permission.

A comparison of elongations

Morning elongations of Venus (or Mercury) are best around the autumn equinox (around September for the Northern Hemisphere, around March for the Southern Hemisphere). These elongations, called western elongations because Venus is west of the sun, happen when the ecliptic – path of the sun, moon and planets – makes a steep angle to the morning horizon. A steep ecliptic angle keeps the planets more directly above the sunrise or sunset.

Springtime elongations that occur in the morning (around March for the Northern Hemisphere, around September for the Southern Hemisphere) are less glorious because of the shallow angle of the ecliptic. When the ecliptic makes a shallow angle with respect to the horizon, that angle keeps the planets closer to the bright sun’s rays.

Chart showing the high ecliptic on autumn mornings and low ecliptic on spring mornings.
This image shows the path of the ecliptic in the morning sky around the fall and spring equinoxes.

The farthest from the sun that Venus can ever appear on the sky’s dome is about 47.3 degrees. On the other hand, the least distance is around 45.4 degrees.

Chart with light blue and gray waves, black annotations, comparing Venus elongations in 2022, 2023 and 2024.
View larger. | A comparison chart of Venus elongations in 2023. Gray areas represent evening apparitions (eastward elongation). Blue areas represent morning apparitions (westward elongation). The top figures are the maximum elongations, reached at the top dates shown beneath. Curves show the altitude of the planet above the horizon at sunrise or sunset, for latitude 40 degrees north (thick line) and 35 degrees south (thin). Maxima are reached at the parenthesized dates below (40 degrees north bold). Chart via Guy Ottewell’s 2023 Astronomical Calendar.

Venus events, 2023-2024

June 4, 2023: Greatest elongation (evening)
August 13, 2023: Inferior conjunction (races between Earth and sun)
October 23, 2023: Greatest elongation (morning)
June 4, 2024: Superior conjunction (passes behind sun from Earth)

Bottom line: At greatest elongation on October 23, 2023, brilliant Venus is as far from the sunrise as it will be for this morning apparition.

Posted 
December 27, 2022
 in 
Astronomy Essentials

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