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Solar System Phenomena — Venus in 2020

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The upper chart shows the path of Venus across the background stars over the course of the year. Stars to magnitude +4.5 are shown with some fainter objects included to complete constellation patterns. The white circles represent the planet on the first day of the month and are scaled according to apparent magnitude. The faint paths before the first circle and after the last circle represent the planet's positions in December of last year and January of next. In general, the planet moves from right to left except when it's in retrograde and proceding in the opposite direction. As an inferior planet, Venus never strays far from the Sun so it always begins and ends the year near the constellation of Sagittarius, located about one quarter of the way in from the left side of the chart.

The lower charts show how the appearance of Venus changes over the year. Below each image is listed the date, the apparent magnitude, the apparent diameter of the disk (in arc-seconds), the geocentric distance (in au), the elongation from the Sun (in degrees) and the percentage of the disk which is illuminated. Like the Moon, Venus exhibits a complete range of phases, from new to crescent to gibbous to full and back again. Unlike the Moon, however, Venus takes over a year to complete this phase cycle. Note how Venus is at its brightest during its crescent phase, when it is relatively close to the Earth.

Venus continues its reign as the evening star at the beginning of 2020. This western apparition favours the northern hemisphere, with the bright planet ascending to over 40° in altitude. It dips below the western horizon at the beginning of June, undergoing inferior conjunction and re-emerging in the east before sunrise later in the month. Northern temperate and tropical latitudes are again favoured, with the morning star less high in the sky as seen from the southern hemisphere. Venus is brightest in late April and early July (magnitude −4.5).

01 Januaryelongation 34.4°, illuminated fraction 82.2%, magnitude −4.0, disk diameter 13.2 arc-seconds
11 JanuaryCapricornusAquarius
27 Januaryplanetary conjunction: 0.1° south of Neptune
01 Februaryelongation 40.4°, illuminated fraction 73.4%, magnitude −4.1, disk diameter 15.4 arc-seconds
02 FebruaryAquariusPisces
15 Februaryascending node
01 Marchelongation 44.6°, illuminated fraction 62.7%, magnitude −4.2, disk diameter 18.9 arc-seconds
04 MarchPiscesAries
08 Marchplanetary conjunction: 2.2° north of Uranus
20 Marchperihelion
24 Marchgreatest elongation east: 46.1°
30 MarchAriesTaurus
01 Aprilelongation 45.9°, illuminated fraction 47.0%, magnitude −4.4, disk diameter 25.7 arc-seconds
03 April0.3° south of the open star cluster M45 (known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters)
01 Mayelongation 38.3°, illuminated fraction 24.7%, magnitude −4.5, disk diameter 39.2 arc-seconds
04 Maymaximum declination north
13 Maystationary point: direct → retrograde
22 Mayplanetary conjunction: 0.9° north of Mercury
01 Juneelongation 4.5°, illuminated fraction 0.3%, magnitude −3.8, disk diameter 58.1 arc-seconds
03 Juneinferior conjunction
05 Junedescending node
19 Junelunar occultation: 0.7° south of the Moon
24 Junestationary point: retrograde → direct
01 Julyelongation 33.9°, illuminated fraction 18.5%, magnitude −4.5, disk diameter 43.4 arc-seconds
10 Julyaphelion
11 July1.0° north of the Aldebaran
01 Augustelongation 45.2°, illuminated fraction 42.9%, magnitude −4.4, disk diameter 27.4 arc-seconds
05 AugustTaurusOrion
13 AugustOrionGemini
greatest elongation west: 45.8°
01 Septemberelongation 44.8°, illuminated fraction 59.5%, magnitude −4.2, disk diameter 19.7 arc-seconds
04 SeptemberGeminiCancer
13 September2.5° south of the open star cluster M44 (known as Praesepe or the Beehive Cluster)
22 SeptemberCancerLeo
26 Septemberascending node
01 Octoberelongation 40.5°, illuminated fraction 71.6%, magnitude −4.1, disk diameter 15.7 arc-seconds
02 October0.1° south of Regulus
22 OctoberLeoVirgo
30 Octoberperihelion
01 Novemberelongation 34.3°, illuminated fraction 81.4%, magnitude −4.0, disk diameter 13.2 arc-seconds
27 NovemberVirgoLibra
01 Decemberelongation 27.6°, illuminated fraction 88.7%, magnitude −4.0, disk diameter 11.8 arc-seconds
12 Decemberlunar occultation: 0.8° south of the Moon
17 DecemberLibraScorpius
21 DecemberScorpiusOphiuchus
31 Decembermaximum declination south

Sources

The dates, times and circumstances of all planetary and lunar phenomena were calculated from the JPL DE406 solar system ephemeris using the same rigorous methods that are employed in the compilation of publications such as The Astronomical Almanac.