© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at dichotomy

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Venus
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Venus will reach half phase in its 2004 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.4.

From Ashburn , this apparition will be exceptionally well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 43° above the horizon at sunset on 3 Apr 2004.

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2004 evening apparition of Venus

18 Aug 2003 – Venus at superior solar conjunction
28 Mar 2004 – Venus at greatest elongation east
31 Mar 2004 – Venus at dichotomy
02 Apr 2004 – Venus at highest altitude in evening sky
03 May 2004 – Venus at greatest brightness
08 Jun 2004 – Venus at inferior solar conjunction

A graph of the phase of Venus is available here.

Apparitions of Venus

07 Jun 2001 – Morning apparition
21 Aug 2002 – Evening apparition
11 Jan 2003 – Morning apparition
28 Mar 2004 – Evening apparition
18 Aug 2004 – Morning apparition
03 Nov 2005 – Evening apparition
25 Mar 2006 – Morning apparition

Observing Venus

Venus's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is lost in the Sun's glare much of the time.

It is observable for a few months each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. These apparitions repeat roughly once every 1.6 years.

On these occasions, Venus is so bright and conspicuous that it becomes the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. It is often called the morning star or the evening star.

Venus's phase

Venus's phase varies depending on its position relative to the Earth. When it passes between the Earth and Sun, for example, the side that is turned towards the Earth is entirely unilluminated, like a new moon.

Conversely, when it lies opposite to the Earth in its orbit, passing almost behind the Sun, it appears fully illuminated, like a full moon. However, at this time it is also at its most distant from the Earth, so it is actually fainter than at other times.

Venus shows an intermediate half phase – called dichotomy – at roughly the same moment that it appears furthest from the Sun, at greatest elongation. The exact times of the two events may differ by a few days, only because Venus's orbit is not quite perfectly aligned with the ecliptic.

Venus's position

The coordinates of Venus when it reaches dichotomy will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Venus 03h35m50s 22°43'N Taurus 24.0"
Sun 00h41m +04°25' Pisces 32'00"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 23 January 2022
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

21-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


21 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:06 12:14 17:23
Venus 05:36 10:45 15:54
Moon 22:05 04:27 10:38
Mars 05:14 09:54 14:33
Jupiter 08:58 14:26 19:54
Saturn 08:00 13:05 18:09
All times shown in EST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

28 Mar 2004  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
03 Apr 2004  –  Venus at highest altitude in evening sky
08 Jun 2004  –  Transit of Venus
18 Aug 2004  –  Venus at greatest elongation west

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes






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