See Venus in the morning sky this month
Throughout June, try to locate Venus against a dark sky and stay with it past sunrise.
A good challenge throughout June 2022 is to locate the planet Venus.
You may think this is easy: after all Venus is the brightest of the planets and at present is located approximately 30° to the west of the Sun in the morning sky.
Not much of a challenge then...
However, we want you to locate it in the day, which is not quite as straightforward.
Venus is a superb planet at any time, and even more so when it can be seen against a dark sky.
This won’t be the case during June 2022, however, but a rewarding challenge will be to spot it against the deep blue of a late June dawn twilight.
And on the morning of 26 June there will be a great opportunity to spot Venus next to a crescent Moon, in a n event known as a conjunction.
Read on to find out how to spot our Solar System neighbour this month.
Take care when observing a daytime planet
Before we continue with our guide to observing Venus in the morning, it’s important to mention that although the Sun is 30° to the east of the planet, it’s still a potential danger.
A good way to protect yourself from its harmful rays is to stand in the shadow of a fence or building so you can’t see the Sun, but just the area of sky to the right of it.
How to find Venus during the day
So how do you go about looking for a bright planet during the day?
Using nothing more than your eyes, there are a couple of ways to approach this.
One is to work out how far Venus is from the Sun in degrees and use your hand at arm’s length as a general guide to its whereabouts.
Your clenched fist at arm’s length is approximately 10° across, your outstretched hand 25°.
These measures can be used with care to gauge an angular distance from the Sun or height above the horizon, enough to put you in the right area.
Measures like this are a valuable skill to learn for many aspects of astronomical planning.
The table above shows the altitude of Venus above the southern horizon, this being another convenient way to locate it as long as the weather is clear at the times shown.
Then there’s the ‘hanging on’ method. For this you can get up before sunrise, locate Venus against a dark sky and stay with it past the point of sunrise.
Finally, there’s the Moon locator method. This only works if the Moon is nearby of course, a situation that occurs on one or maybe two days every month.
See Venus and the Moon, 26 June
The Moon will appear close to Venus on 26 June and, as long as you can locate the Moon during the day, Venus should be relatively easy to spot to the south and west of it on this day.
Venus' encounter with a 7%-lit waning crescent Moon occurs on the morning of 26 June. On this date the pair will appear separated by 2.2˚ in the dawn twilight.
As the day progresses the distance continues to reduce, albeit only slightly, which makes it a good opportunity for spotting Venus in daylight.
The presence of the Moon will enhance the scene and will add its own beauty by displaying earthshine, the effect which makes the night side of the Moon weakly visible.
The closest approach between Venus and the crescent Moon occurs just before 07:00 BST (06:00 UT), when both objects will be 1.9˚ apart, as measured from the centre of the Moon’s disc.
This occurs after the Sun has risen, providing a great opportunity to locate Venus during the day.
Clear skies are a must for this of course, but non-hazy conditions with well-defined clouds can work well too because such features can help you to navigate around patches of the sky.
They can also work against you by hiding Venus just at the moment you’re looking in the right direction.
Whichever method you use, if you succeed, you’ll certainly feel a sense of achievement.
Once you’ve done this for the first time, it also makes subsequent efforts much easier.
See Venus, Mercury and Aldebaran, 30 June
On 30 June, Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri) can be seen below Venus, with planet Mercury to the right of them both, making a right-angle triangle.
Both Mercury and Aldebaran will be low and difficult to locate, but Venus will be a good guide to help you find them.
This guide originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine.