Locating Venus in the Morning Sky or Evening Sky

The planet Venus has two popular nicknames—the “morning star” and the “evening star.” Venus was called the “morning star” when it rose in the morning; and the “evening star” when it rose in the evening. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians thought Venus was two separate objects (one seen in the morning sky and one seen in the evening sky).

The ancient Greeks called the morning star Phosphoros (the bringer of light), and the evening star Hesperos (the star of the evening). The Romans called the morning star Lucifer and the evening star Vesper.  One of the first civilizations to realize that Venus is just one object was the Babylonians. The Venus tablet of the Babylonian Ammisaduqa is considered evidence they knew Venus was one object.

The Sun and the Moon are the only objects in the sky that are brighter than Venus, although Venus is not anywhere near as bright as the Moon.  Venus is at its brightest when it is closest to the Earth and in its crescent stage, when it has -4.9 apparent magnitude. Venus is an inner planet because it is closer to the Sun than the Earth. The only other inner planet is Mercury, which is even closer to the Sun than Venus.

Venus, just like the Sun and the Moon, rises and sets at verifiable times every day. For example, on November 9, 2012, Venus was the morning star in the Los Angeles, California, area. It rose at 4:29 a.m. and set at 4:26 p.m. On May 31, 2015, Venus will rise at 8:59 a.m. and set at 11:16 p.m. This means it will be the evening star that night until it sets at 11:16 p.m.

Venus, just like the Sun, Moon and other planets, is always located in the Zodiac Belt. This region is located 8 degrees to either side of the ecliptic of the planets, Sun, and Moon. The constellations that comprise the Zodiac Belt are Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricorn, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Ophiuchus, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Taurus and Virgo.  These are the only constellations the planets, Sun and Moon can be found in.  

The planet Venus orbits the Sun every 224.65 days, compared to 365.25 days for Earth. This means a year on Venus is just 224.65 days. Its atmosphere is thought to be 96.5 percent carbon dioxide and about 3 percent nitrogen. The diameter of Venus is only 65 kilometers less than that of Earth. Eighty percent of the surface of Venus might be covered by volcanic plains. Venus, Earth, Mars, and Mercury are terrestrial planets.