The “Evening Star” at Perihelion

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The planet Venus reached perihelion last week, its closest point to the Sun in its 225-day orbit. Venus’s orbit is very close to circular, more so than any of the major planets of our solar system. Its distance from the Sun varies by only about 1.5% between perihelion and aphelion, and it averages a distance to the Sun of about 0.72 astronomical units. The planet is now the “evening star”, dominating the night sky above the western horizon after sunset. It continues to move higher each night. In a telescope, you can see the planet slowly change its phase from gibbous to half-full to crescent over the next few months as it continues to brighten and move closer to Earth. Slooh’s own Paul Cox captured a time-lapse of the phases of Venus during a members-only show in 2012. You can see Paul’s Venus timelapse here.

 

 

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