Science

Watch Venus Conjunct Regulus on Monday (September 5)

On Monday, September 5, 2022, on and around Labor Day, skywatchers on Earth will have the opportunity to see Venus moving alongside the bright star Regulus.

The conjunction between the brightest planet in the night sky, Venus, and the brightest star in the constellation Leo, Regulus, will last from September 4 to 5 and will be visible in the east just before sunrise.

This period is also important for Venus, as the second planet from the Sun will be at the closest point in its 225-day orbit to our star, known as perihelion.

Related: Night Sky September 2022: What You Can See Tonight [maps]

Since the planet’s orbit is close to circular, the difference between perihelion and aphelion – the farthest point from the Sun in its orbit – is small, the difference is only about 1.5%.

At this point, Venus will be in the constellation Leo in the east-northeast sky, low in the sky around sunrise on those three days.

While clear skies should be enough to see Venus moving towards the bright light of the sun, skywatchers may need to at least pull out their binoculars to see Regulus itself rising in the sky.

Venus will pass about 0.8 degrees from Regulus, and objects in the sky will be separated by a distance equal to the diameter of the Moon.

Although Venus and Regulus – also known as Alpha Leo – will be next to each other in the night sky as viewed from Earth, in real terms they are not close at all.

While Venus averages 12 to 13 light-minutes from Earth, Regulus is a bright main sequence or hydrogen-burning star located 80 light-years from the solar system. But while it’s not close to partnering with Venus, Regulus doesn’t lack company.

Regulus, estimated to be about three times the mass of the Sun, was once thought to be a single star, but is now known to be part of a binary system.

Venus will be visible next to Regulus, actually a much more distant star in a binary system with a hard to see companion star. (Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/SE de Mink) (will open in a new tab)

A satellite of Regulus is considered to be a stripped star with a mass of about a third of the mass of the Sun. This core, which was separated from its outer layers when it ran out of hydrogen for nuclear fusion and could no longer support itself against gravitational collapse, will eventually become a white dwarf star.

Despite being incredibly hot, with temperatures approaching a maximum of 35,500 degrees Fahrenheit (9,704 Celsius), this stellar core is harder to detect than its brighter stellar partner Regula.

After conjunction, Venus will no longer be visible in early September due to strong sunlight. By October 22, the planet will pass behind the Sun and reappear before the end of 2022.

You can check out our guides to the best binoculars and the best telescopes to spot Venus and Regulus. If you’re hoping to get a good photo of the night sky, check out our guide to photographing the moon, as well as our recommendations for the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography.

Editor’s Note: If you have photographed Venus and/or Regulus and would like to share it with Space.com readers, please send your photos, comments, name and location to spacephotos@.

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