© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at dichotomy

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Venus
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The sky at

Venus will reach half phase in its 2019–2020 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.4.

From Fairfield , this apparition will be exceptionally well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 44° above the horizon at sunset on 3 Apr 2020.

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 sunset over the course of the apparition. All times are given in Fairfield local time.

Date Sun
sets at
sets at
at sunset
at sunset
25 Dec 201916:2919:0421°south-west
04 Jan 202016:3619:2825°south-west
14 Jan 202016:4719:5328°south-west
24 Jan 202016:5820:1632°south-west
03 Feb 202017:1120:3835°south-west
13 Feb 202017:2320:5838°south-west
23 Feb 202017:3521:1940°south-west
04 Mar 202017:4721:3842°south-west
14 Mar 202018:5822:5643°west
24 Mar 202019:0923:1344°west
03 Apr 202019:2023:2644°west
13 Apr 202019:3123:3242°west
23 Apr 202019:4123:2939°west
03 May 202019:5223:1334°west
13 May 202020:0222:3926°west
23 May 202020:1121:4314°west

A graph of the phase of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2019–2020 evening apparition of Venus
24 Mar 2020 – Venus at greatest elongation east
24 Mar 2020 – Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
26 Mar 2020 – Venus at dichotomy
28 Apr 2020 – Venus at greatest brightness

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 03h16m50s +21°30' Aries 24.1"
Sun 00h24m +02°35' Pisces 32'03"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 26 March 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

2-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


2 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:51 11:19 16:47
Venus 08:27 15:51 23:15
Moon 08:10 14:41 21:12
Mars 03:50 08:32 13:14
Jupiter 03:34 08:17 13:00
Saturn 03:57 08:45 13:33
All times shown in EDT.


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

26 Mar 2020  –  Venus at dichotomy
28 Apr 2020  –  Venus at greatest brightness
03 Jun 2020  –  Venus at inferior solar conjunction
08 Jul 2020  –  Venus at greatest brightness

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes






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