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Mercury and Venus

For information about the recent 'Transit of Venus' across the face of the Sun please see the planetary news section. Some images have been added there of this rare and fascinating event. A 'Transit of Mercury' will occur on 9th May 2016.

Venus is covered in thick cloud so it's not possible to see any surface features with telescopes visually but occassionally 'dusky' markings can be glimpsed on the cloud tops. However, being an inner planet it displays phases similar to our Moon and it can be fascinating to watch the changing phases of Venus as it traverses it's orbit around the Sun. Even a small telescope will show these phases.

Andrew Robertson

Mike Brown using his 10" Long Focus Newtonian took this sequence of images (below) using different filters to bring out cloud features.

Venus 24th Feb 2012 - Mike Brown

@9iDave Finnigan took this image on 3rd Feb 2012 with his 8" LX200. Details: Venus 3.02.12, 18.01 UT, seeing 1-2/10, transparency good, 8'' Meade LX200 classic, f30, DMK21AU04.AS mono camera, #47 violet filter, 2273 frames at 30fps processed in Registax 6 and Paintshop Pro 8.

It's diamater is 15" and it's displaying a 73% phase.


Dave Smith took this wonderful compilation showing all of Venus's phases between July 2010 and January 2012. The Venus images were all taken in daylight using aVixen FL102S refractor with a 2x barlow and DMK21 camera taking special care to avoid the Sun. The images were placed on an ellipse (not shown) at their correct distance from the Sun using SkyMap Pro.