Did you notice a bright star rising just ahead of the Sun this morning? If so you are looking at the planet Venus as it moves westward away from the Sun in the morning skies. Venus was recently at inferior conjunction, between the Earth and the Sun on 11 January. Over the next two months Venus will continue moving out away from the Sun rising earlier each morning as this animated graphic is showing. The graphic is set at 1-day intervals and runs from the 20th, today, through the 31st of January.
Venus moving away from inferior conjunction will undergo phase changes similiar to our Moon. Inferior conjunction is sort of like a new Moon and so as Venus moves westward away from the Sun and increasing the angle between the two Venus will first appear as a relatively large and very thin crescent. Over time Venus’s apparent size will decrease and Venus will wax toward a gibbous phase shape before we lose sight of it later this year as it approaches superior conjunction.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.