© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Venus
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Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2010 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.6.

From Ashburn , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent but prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 27° above the horizon at sunset on 8 Jun 2010.

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2010 evening apparition of Venus

29 May 2010 – Venus at highest altitude in evening sky
17 Aug 2010 – Venus at dichotomy
19 Aug 2010 – Venus at greatest elongation east
27 Sep 2010 – Venus at greatest brightness

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Apparitions of Venus

28 Oct 2007 – Morning apparition
14 Jan 2009 – Evening apparition
05 Jun 2009 – Morning apparition
19 Aug 2010 – Evening apparition
08 Jan 2011 – Morning apparition
26 Mar 2012 – Evening apparition
15 Aug 2012 – Morning apparition

Observing Venus

Venus's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is lost in the Sun's glare much of the time.

It is observable for a few months each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. These apparitions repeat roughly once every 1.6 years.

On these occasions, Venus is so bright and conspicuous that it becomes the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. It is often called the morning star or the evening star.

Venus's brightness

Venus's brightness depends on two factors: its closeness to the Earth, and its phase. Its phase varies depending on its position relative to the Earth. When it passes between the Earth and Sun, for example, the side that is turned towards the Earth is entirely unilluminated, like a new moon.

Conversely, when it lies opposite to the Earth in its orbit, passing almost behind the Sun, it appears fully illuminated, like a full moon. However, at this time it is also at its most distant from the Earth, so it is actually fainter than at other times.

Venus reaches its brightest when it is still a crescent – with less than half of its disk illuminated. This is because it is much closer to the Earth during its crescent phases than at other times.

As a result, during evening apparitions, Venus reaches maximum brightness a few days after it is at greatest separation from the Sun, which always coincides with it showing half-phase (dichotomy).

Conversely, during morning apparitions, Venus reaches maximum brightness a few days before it is at greatest separation from the Sun.

Venus's position

The coordinates of Venus when it reaches its greatest brightness will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Venus 14h26m00s 21°03'S Libra 42.1"
Sun 12h15m -01°41' Virgo 31'54"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 17 January 2022
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

15-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


15 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:56 13:05 18:13
Venus 06:10 11:17 16:25
Moon 16:48 00:32 08:13
Mars 05:18 09:58 14:39
Jupiter 09:18 14:44 20:11
Saturn 08:22 13:26 18:29
All times shown in EST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

19 Aug 2010  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
17 Dec 2010  –  Venus at highest altitude in morning sky
08 Jan 2011  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
26 Mar 2012  –  Venus at greatest elongation east

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes






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