The Thinning and Brightening of Venus

venus-20170217At least as of late last week, Venus was about as bright as we ever see it.  It is also getting thinner and thinner by way of its crescent reflection of the Sun.  That seems a bit counter intuitive, but I suppose the combination of Venus’s distance to Earth, its size, and proximity to the Sun all make this stunning magnitude possible.

Soon, Venus will quickly descend back towards the Sun.  The journey started in the summer last year, when I began searching for Venus just above the horizon after sunset.  Back then, the disc was probably 70-85% illuminated but on the wrong side of the Sun.  Over the ensuing months Venus climbed higher and higher.  Ideal viewing, at the highest and brightest, just finished, lasting about two months.

So we (or at least I) say goodbye to Venus, for now.  That leaves us with a bummer time for planetary observing.  Mars is very dim.  Saturn it close to the Sun and in the low morning sky.  The only upcoming hope is mighty Jupiter – visible from mid evening until sunrise as it travels across the Sun’s elliptic during the night.  I’m anxious because in about another month or two, we will be back in prime Jupiter viewing season once again.

I took the above image with my 127mm Mak-Cass using a 7.5mm Plossl eyepiece and Baader Neodymium filter, afocally with my smartphone (stacked video).

6 thoughts on “The Thinning and Brightening of Venus

  1. I read an article last week just what you said about the brightness. It is a combination of factors you mentioned.

    After 25 March we get to watch the reverse process but in the morning hours. I’m ok with that as I’m usually up before the sun.

    That is a very fine picture. I can’t get good results with a phone at the eyepiece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! For this picture, I set my phone’s Pro mode exposure to either 1/3000 or 1/2400, can’t recall which. That is way, way down. With Venus, I feel I am always just a tad off with my focusing, partially because there are no planetary features to anchor my sights on (unlike the mara of Mars, cloud bands of Jupiter, and rings of Saturn). I tried the Neodymium filter this time because I saw a few recent images on Twitter claiming they used as IR cut filter to gleam the cloud bands. Also, I’ve found that setting the focus to manual helps a bit.

      I think I generally dismiss the East risings due to my own personal factors – trees and neighbors’ hours block most of my East sky, plus my work schedule. My West view is clear and I can set up my telescope when I get home from work in the evenings. I will try to catch Venus this Spring, though, like on the weekends. Best of luck to you in viewing the “morning star” this March and April.


  2. Pingback: Venus, Mars and Uranus – Wayne Boyd's Rational Thinking 101

  3. Great read and explains why Venus is so bright right now. Iwas wondering about that when I also happened to post a blog about Venus, Mars and Uranus tonight. I linked it to your blog too.


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