Venus at Its Best

Moon and Venus
Naked-eye and binocular observers alike will delight in Venus’s conjunctions with the Moon on May 20 and 21, 2004. This image was taken during the February 23rd Moon-Venus conjunction.
Sky & Telescope photo by Richard Tresch Fienberg.
Naked-eye and binocular observers alike will delight in Venus’s conjunction with the Moon on May 20th and 21st. This will be magnificent in the twilight and at night, and it also provides the best opportunity to view Venus in daylight. Venus is surprisingly easy to see with the naked eye when it's near maximum elongation on a haze-free day, but it's extraordinarily hard to locate and amazingly easy to lose; look away and back again, and that tiny white fleck has been swallowed up in the vast expanse of blue sky. Things are much easier when the Moon is in the vicinity, providing a signpost. Even so, it is best to start by locating Venus in binoculars, and only then attempt the naked-eye view.

Venus ends its remarkable apparition in the evening sky on June 8th with the most extraordinary event of all: the planet’s first transit of the Sun since 1882. This event is covered in detail in the June issues of Sky & Telescope, currently available on newsstands.

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