I´m sure Venus has already caught your sight within the last couple of days, if you ever watched the sun set or simply looked up shortly after dawn!
That´s because Venus is currently a real eye-catcher, easily visible with the naked eye.
Today and the day after, you can also see the Moon close to Venus (as shown above).
Indeed it´s our inner neighbor planet. This fact leads to particularities in its observation.
We can see Venus only if it´s standing east or west from the Sun. Consequent it´s either visible in the evening or in the morning hours.
Venus shows "phases", similar to the Moon. But we can never see a "full Venus" from because, because it is than standing behind the sun.
On the night sky Venus is, after the Moon, the second brightest object (followed by Jupiter and Mars).
Venus rotates in the opposite direction, compared to all other planets in our solar system.
Observations of Venus in 2018
Trained observers can spot Venus even during day, even when the Sun is out. But please never look directly into the without protection.
Actually it´s much easier to find Venus, after the Sun has already set. Surely it doesn´t have to be completely dark. Venus is bright enough to penetrate dawn.
In mid January Venus has passed behind the sun, and is currrently moving further and further away from it, until it has reached its largest eastern elongation (distance to the Sun) on 17th of August.
Venus will reach it´s highest point above the horizon at the beginning of June.
... then it will be illuminted to 3/4 and 180 million kilometers away from Earth.
Largest eastern elongation on 17th of August
In this position Venus is standing in 90° to the Sun and therefor illuminated only half. Its brightness will increase "dramatically" and reach its maximum on 20th of September. This is because it is getting so much closer to Earth, being around 100 million kilometers away on 17th of August and only 63 million kilometers away at the end of September.
As a result of this, it will not only appear brighter on the sky, but also bigger in the telescope.
Between the two pictures from beginning of June and mid of August you can see a clear tilt of the orbital plane. This is a result of the descending Sun at the end of summer (and only true for latitudes around 30+ degrees north). So Venus might be bright in September, but you can see it only for a very brief period of time.
What the future holds
After Venus passed in front of the Sun at the end of October, it will start being visible in the morning sky, beginning around February 2019.