Venus and Jupiter above Downhill Estate in County Derry, Northern Ireland, March 2012

Preening Venus Hovers Long Into the Night


She's known as the Morning Star or the Evening Star, and under normal circumstances Venus keeps to those times. But the preening beauty is set to take over the skies for much of the night this weekend, a brilliant diamond shining halfway to the zenith on her sojourn across the sky.

After consorting with Jupiter, the moon and even insinuating herself in with the Seven Sisters, Venus the Love Planet will rise in the west as usual … and then will take her time setting. She will drop below the horizon at 11:30 p.m. or even after midnight, depending on time zone and your place within it.

The reason, according to, is that this is the crux of Venus’s months-long journey to all-night attention that began over the winter. From Earth’s vantage point, Venus is more often visible for only a little while after sunset, following close on the heels of the sun.

But now, in terms of the view from Mother Earth, Venus has gotten farther and farther from the sun, which means more time in our night sky. She’ll be visible for three-and-a-half to five-and-a-half hours after sunset, said.

Daylight Savings Time has also played a role, because everything sets later. Whereas before the March changeover Venus would have set at 10:30, now the planet, as well as the sun, gets another hour aloft.

Venus will grow in brilliance and moxie until her transit across the face of the sun in early June. Stay tuned for more on that.

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