© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at dichotomy

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

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The sky at

Venus will reach half phase in its 2014 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.4.

From Cambridge , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent but , reaching a peak altitude of 21° above the horizon at sunrise on 19 Feb 2014.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

The table below lists how high Venus will appear at sunrise over the course of the apparition. All times are given in Cambridge local time.

Date Sun
sets at
rises at
at sunrise
at sunrise
20 Jan 201407:1005:4713°west
30 Jan 201407:0104:5719°west
09 Feb 201406:5004:2521°west
19 Feb 201406:3604:0721°west
01 Mar 201406:2103:5720°west
11 Mar 201407:0404:5020°west
21 Mar 201406:4704:4418°west
31 Mar 201406:2904:3718°north-west
10 Apr 201406:1204:2816°north-west
20 Apr 201405:5604:1816°north-west
30 Apr 201405:4204:0716°north-west
10 May 201405:2903:5516°north-west

A graph of the phase of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2014 morning apparition of Venus
11 Jan 2014 – Venus at inferior solar conjunction
19 Feb 2014 – Venus reaches highest point in morning sky
23 Mar 2014 – Venus at greatest elongation west
23 Mar 2014 – Venus at dichotomy

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 hours, 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 21h12m30s -14°13' Aquarius 24.3"
Sun 00h10m +01°06' Pisces 32'05"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 23 March 2014
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

22-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


22 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:54 11:17 16:40
Venus 04:42 09:52 15:02
Moon 01:25 06:15 11:06
Mars 20:33 02:16 07:54
Jupiter 11:49 19:25 03:05
Saturn 22:59 04:05 09:07
All times shown in EDT.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 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

23 Mar 2014  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
09 May 2015  –  Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
06 Jun 2015  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
21 Oct 2015  –  Venus reaches highest point in morning sky

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes




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