Spectacular Venus’ early-evening show


On the 15 February Venus and Neptune are a mere 16 arcminutes apart, seen soon after sunset over the west-south-western horizon.

Venus has emerged out of the post-sunset misty mire to be seen soon after sunset as dazzling evening star. There’s the bonus too of Jupiter, the king of the planets, lying around 20° above Venus. Keep a close eye on the pair on any clear early evenings as the pair are converging on the sky for a very special coming together at the end of February into early March. That’s not the end of the observing story for this month though, as Neptune, the remote ice-giant that’s the farthest-lying planet in the Solar System, also lies very close to Venus.

It’s always a special sight when Venus is in the night sky, especially when it stands high enough for town and city dwellers to see and its brilliance is enhanced against an astronomically-dark sky, as is the case later this month.


Venus and Jupiter are split by the crescent Moon in the splendid scene soon after sunset on 22 February.

How to observe

Venus shines brilliantly at close to magnitude –4, easily surpassing the brightness of all night-time astronomical objects except the Moon. By the end of civil twilight at about 5.40pm GMT, when the Sun has dipped 6° below the horizon, the second planet lies 15° high over the west-southwestern horizon. Venus sets at about 7.30pm. A small telescope can easily reveal Venus’ 89.7 per cent-illuminated gibbous disc.   

Venus encounters remote Neptune on the early evenings of 14 and 15 February, when the pair are as close as 54’ and 16’, respectively. On 22 February, a young crescent moon lies between Venus and Jupiter, providing a fantastic astro-imaging opportunity.

Venus shows a 89 per cent gibbous phase in these infrared images shot at 17:36 UT (left) and 17:59 UT on 4 July 2021. This is how Venus will appear during mid-February. Image: Luigi Morrone.