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The observation of Venus

by Pierre Causeret last modified Sep 05, 2012 05:18 PM
Contributors: Florence Trouillet, Dalida Halfaoui

Venus in 2012

2012 is an excellent year to observe Venus : not only because it will shine in the evening sky and in the morning sky, as it does roughly every nineteen months, but also since it will pass in front of the Sun on June, 6th 2012 (an event which will not happen again until 2117!)

01 venus in the morningsky
Venus in the morning sky.


When can we observe Venus?

Venus will be visible in the evening, from the beginning of 2012 until the end of May.
From mid-June until the end of the year, it will be possible to observe it in the morning.

The angle between the Sun and Venus when viewed from Earth is called “elongation”. On the 27th of March, the elongation will be maximal at 46 degrees. This is the moment when it is easier to observe Venus as the planet is far from the Sun and sets long after it (over 4 hours).


02 maximal elongation of venus fromEarth
Maximal elongation of Venus
03 maximal elongation of venus fromsky
Venus-Earth-Sun angle is maximal when a line drawn from Venus to Earth is a tangent to its orbit


The elongation of Venus will reach 46° on March the 27th. Viewed through a telescope, Venus will appear in quarter.

1 : Superior conjunction (16/08/2011 et 29/03/2013)
2 : East maximal elongation (27/03/2012)
3 : Inferior conjunction (6/06/2012)
4 : West maximal elongation (15/08/2012)

04 phases of Venus observed from earth
The phases of Venus observed from Earth


Before the 27th of March, Venus will appear larger than a quarter when viewed through a telescope.
Between the 27th of March and late May, we will be able to observe the crescent Venus becoming thinner but its diameter will increase as the planet approaches the Earth.
Maximum brightness will be in late April.


05 venus photographed through a telescope
Venus photographed through a telescope


On the 6th of June 2012, Venus will pass in front of the sun (q.v. the page dedicated to this event.)
At that time Venus will be found in the morning sky, first as a thin crescent and then as a quarter (maximal elongation on the 15th of August 2012) Venus will be visible until the end of the year.


venus en

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