Retrograde & Invisibility – the differences between planets retrograde and planets invisible

Written by Adam Gainsburg

The approaching Venus retr0grade period – Jul 25 (0 Vir) to Sep 6 (14 Leo) – provides more than simply reviewing, reconciling and re-engendering our Venus and Venus-governed areas of life. Tucked in the middle of each 40-42 day Venus Retrograde period is the Venus Invisibility period. Like all timings Venus, her Invisibility period is predictable: 13-14 days.

Modern astrologers generally do not concern themselves with visibility of the planets as a principle factor in delineation. Yet visibility holds the very roots of astrological practice itself, well before signs or the idea of a horoscope was introduced. The appearance or disappearance of the wanderers signaled critical changes in the deities’ influences on human affairs.

As sky observation has been a central focus for me, I’ve made some observations about the distinctions between Venus “apparently backwards” (retrograde) and Venus “apparently missing” (invisible) in our skies.

To frame the distinction, it’s very helpful to first understand that Venus’ transition from evening star to morning star is built upon four pairs of bookends nested within one another. The bookends are Venus’ Max Elongations from the Sun, her Max Brightnesses (relative magnitude), her Stations and her Heliacal Setting/Rising (disappearance/appearance). Here’s one way to conceptualize all 8 events :


Venus Retrograde

Venus begins her retrograde period 2½ weeks after achieving maximum brightness in the evening sky and completes it about 2½ weeks before her maximum brightness in the morning sky. Retrograding Venus surrenders brilliance in the evening and is prepared for a new brilliance in the morning. In fact, it is Venus’ retrograde period which transitions one Venus-Sun cycle into the next. It is five of these cycles which produces the familiar pentacle shape. And as Mercury is identical in this regard, we can say that the inner planets require a forced internalization to evolve into their subsequent journey.

Retrograding Venus is also intimately meshed with her proximity to Earth. When retrograde, she is either approaching or just leaving behind her closest proximity to Earth or perigee (at inferior conjunction). It’s an intensification of the qualities, potentials, rejections, strengths and weaknesses that we have around our Venus, resulting in:

  • Reversals of prior connections with others or inroads
  • Isolating or retreating from others; necessary solitude
  • “Losing” or re-opening to love or popularity
  • Intensifying feelings; feelings emerge
  • Betrayals of past promises or projections
  • Processing or healing relationships
  • Consolidating or committing to better values
  • Beautifying our home or work
  • Confusing financial choices or conditions if we are “thinking with our emotions”
  • Tested loyalties
  • Securing of promises (‘good faith money’) or debt repayment

Invisible Venus

When there is no Venus in our morning or evening skies, because she is too close to the Sun, there is a unique quality that emerges. It is important to first understand that Venus in fact undergoes two periods of invisibility which have unique qualities. This short article addresses the inferior or interior conjunction invisibility, the shorter of the two. We are approaching one of these periods, which runs from August 9-22, 2015.1

When Venus disappears and is retrograde, she is migrating from one collective theme of femininity (Sun-Venus cycle) to another. At a personal level, we become undone or unmade from the prior cycle and prepare to be re-imagined and re-constituted for the subsequent cycle. In the very middle of this period when she is at her closest to Earth, we receive a complete infusion of her energy in often intense yet unconscious ways.

When Venus is invisible, we rely more on our immediate sensory input and our intake of information becomes closer to home. We find we need more touch, perhaps we stock up on food, or we avoid bad-energy people and situations. Or, we might go too far with alcohol or partying or shopping. We may become extra-sensitive emotionally or psychically.

Qualities of Invisible Venus

  • “Missing” dynamic (i.e., missing others, feeling missed or ignored, or things gone missing)
  • Lacking or losing familiar connections or memories
  • Decreased reliance on oneself; increased dependence on others
  • Indecision or regression into earlier social behavior
  • Trusting oneself even when “in the dark”
  • Development of intuitive or spiritual abilities
  • Renewed or strengthened commitments or resolve.

An invisible Venus will bring out invisible issues of our social self, who we need to present ourselves as, who we need others to know/think of us as, and our social self-worth. For most of us, an invisible Venus is a stressor. Collectively we long for a re-appeared Venus because we feel distant from ourselves when she (we) isn’t there. This reflects our cultural need of our external world to provide the strength for our relationship with ourselves.

So what are we to do during Venus’ invisibility? Anything that brings us into greater intimacy with ourselves. We can receive illuminating inspiration not necessarily from on high but from deep within. How this will materialize is unique to each of us. Where some would be compelled to socialize more, others would find themselves retreating from others.

The shorter of the two invisibility periods of Venus – at inferior or interior conjunction – is nested within her retrograde period. Thus Venus retrograde leads to Venus invisible, and Venus invisible then begets Venus in direct motion again. These are two facets of our own interior Venus qualities, which I term our Feminine Self. Along with Venus’ maximum brightness and distance from the Sun (elongation), modern astrologers have a highly organized and regular structure with which to deepen and expand our delineation of Venus.



1 The astronomical factors defining the invisibility period for a planet are numerous and include latitude of observation, time of year, planetary size, distance from Earth, and local horizon conditions among many others. Lots of observation, both of the sky and of my clients born during or close to these Venus invisibility periods, have shown me that Venus 10˚ from the Sun is the correct threshold for determining disappearance or appearance. However, when Venus is furthest from Earth at her superior or exterior conjunction, she requires 13˚ to transition between visibility and invisibility. This is due mostly to her maximum distance from Earth (apogee). In other words, when Venus is furthest from Earth, we need her to be further from the Sun to become visible; when she is closest to Earth, she can be closer to the Sun and still be visible.


* Excerpted and adapted from The Light of Venus, Adam Gainsburg, Soulsign Publishing. Available on and


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