© 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 2014 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.6.

From Seattle , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent and tricky to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 18° above the horizon at sunrise on 18 Jul 2014.

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2014 morning apparition of Venus

11 Jan 2014 – Venus at inferior solar conjunction
11 Feb 2014 – Venus at greatest brightness
23 Mar 2014 – Venus at greatest elongation west
23 Mar 2014 – Venus at dichotomy
28 Jul 2014 – Venus at highest altitude in morning sky

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Apparitions of Venus

26 Mar 2012 – Evening apparition
15 Aug 2012 – Morning apparition
31 Oct 2013 – Evening apparition
23 Mar 2014 – Morning apparition
06 Jun 2015 – Evening apparition
26 Oct 2015 – Morning apparition
12 Jan 2017 – Evening 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 19h04m50s 16°19'S Sagittarius 42.7"
Sun 21h41m -13°52' Capricornus 32'24"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 20 January 2022
Sunrise
07:47
Sunset
16:51
Twilight ends
18:40
Twilight begins
05:58

18-day old moon
Waning Gibbous

91%

18 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:49 12:40 17:30
Venus 06:10 10:59 15:48
Moon 18:36 02:16 09:42
Mars 05:47 09:55 14:04
Jupiter 09:19 14:34 19:49
Saturn 08:31 13:14 17:57
All times shown in PST.

Source

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

14 Dec 2013  –  Venus at highest altitude in evening sky
23 Mar 2014  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
28 Jul 2014  –  Venus at highest altitude in morning sky
01 May 2015  –  Venus at highest altitude in evening sky

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

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