Venus Reaches Greatest Separation From The Sun
This spring, sky watchers have enjoyed the evening show provided by the 2nd planet from the Sun, Venus. It’s easy to spot in the western sky, as the “evening star," after the sun sets.
Venus is brightening and moving higher in the western sky as it speeds towards the earth.
Venus moves only a limited distance east or west of the Sun since it orbits inside the earth’s orbit and closer to the sun. Because of this, Venus when viewed in a telescope shows phases like the moon.
When Venus is on the opposite side of the Sun as seen from earth, it appears full and small because it is far away. As Venus orbits the Sun, its faster speed brings it close to earth and its apparent diameter grows larger and it shows a crescent shape as it nears the earth.
This evening Venus reaches its widest separation of 44 degrees East of the Sun, called greatest Eastern elongation, and shines brightly at a magnitude of -4.4. In a telescope is appears as only half-illuminated.
Venus will continue to brighten until it reaches its greatest brightness of magnitude -4.5 on April 28. In a telescope its apparent size grows but its phase becomes a thin crescent.
For more information, visit Cache Valley Astronomical Society at cvas-utahskies.org.