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Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2013–2014 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.7.

From Seattle , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent and tricky to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 17° above the horizon at sunset on 16 Dec 2013.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

The table below lists how high Venus will appear at sunset over the course of the apparition. All times are given in Seattle local time.

Date Sun
sets at
sets at
at sunset
at sunset
17 Sep 201319:1720:3611°south-west
27 Sep 201318:5720:2011°south-west
07 Oct 201318:3620:0711°south-west
17 Oct 201318:1719:5911°south-west
27 Oct 201317:5919:5612°south-west
06 Nov 201316:4318:5712°south
16 Nov 201316:3019:0114°south
26 Nov 201316:2119:0515°south
06 Dec 201316:1619:0416°south
16 Dec 201316:1618:5317°south-west
26 Dec 201316:2018:2515°south-west
05 Jan 201416:2917:3810°south-west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2013–2014 evening apparition of Venus
30 Oct 2013 – Venus at dichotomy
31 Oct 2013 – Venus at greatest elongation east
09 Dec 2013 – Venus at greatest brightness
15 Dec 2013 – Venus reaches highest point in evening sky

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 19h54m10s -22°50' Sagittarius 43.2"
Sun 17h07m -22°53' Ophiuchus 32'28"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 09 December 2013
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

6-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


6 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:52 11:15 15:38
Venus 10:34 14:47 19:01
Moon 12:20 18:24 00:29
Mars 00:51 07:00 13:10
Jupiter 18:22 02:16 10:07
Saturn 05:04 09:59 14:53
All times shown in PST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 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

31 Oct 2013  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
16 Dec 2013  –  Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
22 Mar 2014  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
24 Jul 2014  –  Venus reaches highest point in morning sky

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