Venus is the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. It is dominant in the western half of the twilight sky after sunset; however, that is about to change for a period of time.
While Venus is called the evening star, with planets changing their positions, Venus is also set to leave the evening sky in the coming weeks. Last month, the planet was at its brightest this whole year. And as we reach the end of this month, it will start to hang low in the west.
In over two weeks, Venus will line up between the Earth and the Sun which will make it appear in the eastern sky just before the sunrise. This is where the planet emerges from within the Sun’s glare right after the sunset while making for a wonderful sight. It is something that can be seen right after sunset these days; however, it will continue to touch down before getting towards the horizon and eventually disappearing.
For those interested, they should be able to see it daily for the next few days of this month. One of the best ways to look at Venus is using a telescope. As Venus stalks across the sky and continues to move more towards the Earth, its disc size gets bigger and there is a shrinkage in its phase. Here's a look at Venus' tracks across the sky from February to May.
Image credits: Peter B Lawrence | BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Here's the May 4-16 Venus sequence animated... pic.twitter.com/o5E3z0MQ3E— Pete Lawrence (@Avertedvision) May 17, 2020
By mid-May, the apparent diameter rises to 49 arcseconds with the phase dropping to 10%. This can be seen as a crescent with the help of a telescope. However, for people who don’t actually have a telescope, you still shouldn’t miss your chance to spot the bright evening star, while you can. When the planet lines up with the Sun at the inferior conjunction, it tends to travel north or south of the Sun’s disc in the sky. When the next inferior conjunction takes place on June 3, Venus will pass half-a-degree north of the Sun’s centre, thereby placing Venus just one-quarter of a degree from the Sun’s northern limb. This will be too close to observe safely.
Image credits: Old Farmer's Almanac