Backyard Observatory

July Is a Great Time to See Venus Bright in the Sky

Venus has retaken its place in the morning sky, and it's easy to spot.

When to see venus
Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Veggie burgers aren't the only thing that should come to mind when you see morning star. Venus had been Earth's faithful evening star over recent months up until it disappeared from the twilight sky at the start of June. Later in the month, it began its slow ascent as part of the predawn sky.

Venus is the second-brightest night-sky object -- it's only dimmer than the moon -- and that has earned it the title of morning star for the part of the year when it hangs around in the early hours of the day. And that time has arrived once again. If you're an early riser, you're able to catch Venus on your morning commute or during that first coffee of the day. 

It's notable because it's so bright, but, on the other hand, it's not the moon, so you do have to look around the sky for Venus. You'll find it shining low in the eastern sky around dawn. With its intense brightness, you don't need any assistance to see the morning star. However, if you can look at the planet through a telescope, you'll see that it's not a perfect orb despite how it looks to the naked eye. It's actually a thin crescent that's currently about 15% sunlit, per Sky and Telescope.

Now that it has taken its place in the morning sky, Venus rises earlier and earlier each night. At least, throughout this month it will. On July 9, Venus will rise at about 3:10am EST and will stay up through sunrise, per In the Sky. On that date, it'll be about 26 degrees above the horizon at sunrise, ascending up to 34 degrees over the horizon on July 29. (Make a fist and extend your arm. That fist covers about 10 degrees of the sky.) 

July is an excellent month for stargazers to find the planet not only because it'll be visible up until sunrise, but because it's going to hit its point of greatest illuminated extent on July 10, the night it shines brightest for the entire year. Later in the month, on July 17, it'll have a close encounter with the moon. The two orbs won't be quite close enough together to see them in tandem through the lens of a telescope, but they'll still be awfully chummy.

So, head out and look for Venus. It'll be easier to spot than the one person not wearing a mask at the grocery store.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.