Some last looks at Venus

The planet Venus has been blazing in our eastern sky before sunup for many months. Now it’s getting very near the sunrise glare. The waning moon just swept past it. Enjoy these photos of Venus as it descends into the dawn. It’ll be gone by about mid-February.

Venus and very thin, bright crescent moon in deep blue sky barely peek over a dark mountain ridge.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Geraint Smith in San Cristobal, New Mexico, captured this photo of Venus and the moon on January 11, 2021. He wrote: “At 6:23 am the coyotes in the village made their announcement. At 6:24 am the waning crescent moon peaked over Taos Mountain. At 6:29 am, Venus joined her. Taos Mountain is the sacred mountain of Taos Pueblo the Red Willow People. The most heart-stopping sight I’ve seen in a while.” Thanks, Geraint!

As 2021 began, the brightest planet – Venus – appeared much closer to the sun on our sky’s dome than it did some months ago. Throughout January, Venus’ angular distance from the sun – its distance from the sun on our sky’s dome – will continue to shrink. Day by day, watch for Venus to sink deeper and deeper into the glow of morning twilight.

Why is Venus getting so close to the sunrise now, as seen from Earth? The answer is that Venus – in its smaller and faster orbit around the sun – is about to “turn the corner” ahead of us in orbit. In other words, Venus is about to pass on the far side of the sun from Earth. Its faster motion around the sun relative to Earth will bring the sun between us and it, and we won’t be able to view the planet from Earth. Venus will be gone from our sky from about late February to perhaps late April. It’ll be most nearly behind the sun, at superior conjunction as viewed from Earth, on March 26. Then Venus will return – to our evening sky this time – in May, appearing near the western horizon as a surprisingly bright evening “star.”

Look outside some morning soon, and you’ll still see Venus easily above the sunrise glare. Then watch over the coming weeks, as the planet inches closer to the sunrise and finally disappears in the glare of morning twilight. Can you cast your mind outward into space to imagine Venus fleeing ahead of us in orbit?

If you get a good photo, submit it here.

Want more about the planets? Visit EarthSky’s monthly planet guide.

And bookmark this post! We’ll be posting Venus photos here, until Venus disappears from the morning sky.

The 2021 lunar calendars are here! Going fast. Order yours before they’re gone.

Venus as a small point of light in sunrise.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Randy Shetter in Torrance, CA, captured this photo of Venus and the sunrise on January 12, 2021. He wrote: “Photo was taken of Venus in the early morning sunrise with the clouds creating a tangerine hue in the sky.” Thanks, Randy!

Venus and the crescent moon near sunrise.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Cheryl Broumley in Minden, Nevada, captured this photo of Venus and a crescent moon on January 11, 2021. She wrote: “Early morning just before sunrise.” Thanks, Cheryl!

Venus and crescent moon in lavender morning sky on either side of lighthouse.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | BLW McGrory in Fenwick, Island, Delaware, captured this photo of Venus and the crescent moon on January 11, 2021. BLW wrote: “Waning crescent with 9% visibility, and Venus, approximately 40 minutes after moonrise over the mid-Atlantic coast along the Fenwick Island, Delaware, shore.” Thanks, BLW!

Venus and thin crescent moon near dark line of silhouetted rooftops.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Barbara Banks in Golden, Colorado, captured this photo of Venus and the moon on January 11, 2021. She wrote: “Got up early at home to see the promised slip of a moon next to Venus. Good to be alive on this lovely morning.” Thanks, Barbara!

Venus and crescent moon over sparse bare trees in the sunrise.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Hoskin in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, captured this photo of Venus and a crescent moon on January 11, 2021. He wrote: “Venus and very old crescent moon at dawn.” Thanks, David!

Labeled Venus above a skyscraper skyline in a bright yellow and pink sunrise.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Alexander Krivenyshev in New York City, New York, captured this photo of Venus on January 8, 2021, right before sunrise. He explained that “the ‘morning star’ Venus shines in the dawn sky above New York city.” Thank you, Alexander!

Slate-gray clouds in twilight with one bright dot over silhouetted trees.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Catherine Evans caught Venus rising in the morning twilight from the Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo, California, on January 7, 2021. She wrote: “I have been watching Venus for awhile, not knowing it was Venus until I looked it up on my Sky Guide app. The clouds add to the image but she quickly disappeared after one shot.” Thanks, Catherine!

Narrow red band of sunrise with bright dot in sky fading to dark blue above.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | At dawn on January 4, 2021, Betsy McCully captured bright Venus over the Indian River in Titusville, Florida. Thank you, Betsy!

Clear red sky with one bright dot reflected in body of water.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Steven Bellavia in Mattituck, New York, captured Venus at 6:30 a.m. on January 5, 2021. He wrote: “Venus is still a morning star. She reaches superior conjunction on March 26, and will then slowly become an evening star.” Thanks, Steven!

Bottom line: Photos of Venus in January 2021. By February, Venus will become exceedingly close to the sunrise glare. It’ll disappear entirely in that glare sometime in February. Submit your photos here.

Eleanor Imster