Venus continues to drop closer to the horizon every evening. After reaching its furthest angular distance from the Sun (known as Greatest Elongation) on January 14 at a distance of 47 degrees, Venus has cut that distance by more than half (now at 22 degrees) as the planet approaches the Sun by ~1 degree per day. This all sets the stage for Inferior Conjunction on March 27 when Venus will be located only 8 degrees from the Sun. As close as that sounds, can appear even closer to the Sun and, in fact, can appear to pass in front of, or transit, the Sun. The last transit was in June of 2004, the next one will be on June 5-6 in 2012. After that we have a long wait until 2117.
For the past few days, I’ve been observing Venus from my backyard. Due to all the trees around my home, I can no longer get a clear shot of Venus after sunset. Luckily, Venus is bright enough that with some effort it can be located during the day when the Sun is still up. The sequence of 5 images shown below are of Venus on March 8, 10, 11, 12 and 13 UT. The first 4 images were taken an hour or less before sunset while the last image was taken around noon.
Notice that Venus is getting thinner with time. This is especially evident when you compare the 1st and last image (March 8 and 13). Also Venus is slowly growing in size as it comes closer to Earth.
I will try to observe Venus up to and after Inferior Conjunction. But considering how hard it is to get images of Venus now, I’ll consider myself very lucky to be able to see anything in a weeks time.
For more info on Venus and this month’s conjunction with the Sun, see my blog entry from a few days ago: “Venus Approaching Inferior Conunction“.