Venus before sunrise: Greatest elongation October 23, 2023
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 raced between the Earth and sun in August 2023, then emerged quickly into the east before sunrise. And it’ll remain visible in the morning sky until around May 2024. Greatest elongation – when Venus will be farthest from the sunrise – is October 23, 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 23 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 -4.3.
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.
September mornings: Venus
For precise sun and Venus rising times at your location:
Old Farmer’s Almanac (U.S. and Canada)
Stellarium (free online planetarium program)
Venus after sunrise in 2023 Northern Hemisphere
Venus after sunrise in 2023 Southern Hemisphere
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.
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.
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)
By the way, there are no greatest elongations of Venus in 2024. The next evening greatest elongation is January 9, 2025. And the next morning greatest elongation is May 31, 2025.
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.