2024 Apparitions of the Inferior Planets from Latitude 50° North

What is an Apparition?

An apparition of a planet is the period during which it is visible, beginning and ending with solar conjunction. In the cases of the inferior planets Mercury and Venus, it is the time between inferior and superior conjunction (morning apparition) and the time between superior and inferior conjunction (evening apparition). Because inferior planets are always near the Sun, they only appear in the east before sunrise and the west after sunset.

Below are a series of diagrams showing the morning and evening apparitions of Mercury and Venus as observed from latitude 50° north. The planet is shown on the 1st, 6th, 11th, 16th, 21st and 26th days of each month with the current year's positions shown in bright white. The path may extend from the previous year or into the next.


Mercury undergoes several morning and evening apparitions every year. Morning apparitions occur between inferior conjunction (when the planet is at its dimmest) and superior conjunction (when the planet is at its brightest) whereas evening apparitions always start bright and end with the planet around sixth magnitude. This year, Mercury begins and ends the year at dawn, appearing four times in the east, and showing itself in the evening three times.

The morning apparitions of Mercury in 2024 as seen from latitude 50° north.

Mercury in on the upswing as it completes last year's final apparition (blue track). Opening at an altitude of 10.9°, the tiny planet manages almost another degree in the first few days of January before losing height in the southeast and vanishing by mid-February. The next morning appearance (pink track) occurs between April and June and is the worst morning apparition for observers at 50° north latitude, with Mercury barely topping 5° the whole time. This is followed by the best appearance in the east (late August through September, green track) when Mercury reaches a maximum altitude of 15.2° in the first week of September. The final apparition of the year begins in December (orange track), with the planet reaching 13.2° above the southeastern horizon before turning back toward the Sun.

The evening apparitions of Mercury in 2024 as seen from latitude 50° north.

Mercury's first appearance at sunset occurs in March and April (blue track) and represents the best opportunity to see this elusive planet in the evening. The zero-magnitude object reaches a height of 16.9° above the western horizon around 25 March. The June–August apparition (pink track) is not nearly as good, with the tiny planet at best 6.5° lower than its maximum height in March. The final evening apparition occurs near the end of the year, from late September to early December (green track), with the elusive evening planet never getting even as high as 6° above the horizon.


Venus is the morning star as the year opens, passing into the western sky in early June where it remains until late-March 2025.

The morning apparitions of Venus in 2024 as seen from latitude 50° north.

Last year's excellent morning apparition concludes this year, with Venus opening the year at 18.7° altitude and steadily declining in height, skimming the eastern horizon from April until it finally disappears at the end of May.

The evening apparitions of Venus in 2024 as seen from latitude 50° north.

The evening star appears in the northwest in mid-June but remains low to the horizon until early November when it finally gets above 10°. It continues to climb above the southwestern horizon right through to the end of the year, appearing just over 25° in altitude at the beginning of the new year.