Venus, the brightest planet as seen from Earth, is sinking toward the sun a bit more each morning. Soon Venus will no longer be the “morning star,” as it will be too close to the sun for viewers to spot. But before it goes, photographers from around the world have been sharing their photos with us.
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?
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as an EarthSky.org Editor, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She and her husband live in Tennessee, where they enjoy guitar playing and singing. They have 2 grown sons.
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