© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2016 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -3.9.

From Ashburn , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent and very difficult to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 11° above the horizon at sunset on 25 Aug 2016.

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 Ashburn local time.

Date Sun
sets at
Venus
sets at
Altitude
at sunset
Direction
at sunset
06 Jul 201620:3721:11north-west
16 Jul 201620:3221:14west
26 Jul 201620:2521:12west
05 Aug 201620:1521:0710°west
15 Aug 201620:0320:5810°west
25 Aug 201619:4920:4711°west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2016 evening apparition of Venus
06 Jun 2016 – Venus at superior solar conjunction
06 Jun 2016 – Venus at greatest brightness

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 05h00m50s +22°44' Taurus 9.6"
Sun 05h00m +22°44' Taurus 31'31"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 06 June 2016
Sunrise
05:43
Sunset
20:32
Twilight ends
22:29
Twilight begins
03:46

1-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

4%

1 day old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:37 11:30 18:24
Venus 05:44 13:07 20:30
Moon 07:37 14:44 21:50
Mars 18:50 23:40 04:35
Jupiter 12:43 19:10 01:41
Saturn 19:58 00:55 05:48
All times shown in EDT.

Warning

Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.

Source

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

26 Oct 2015  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
12 Jan 2017  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
05 Feb 2017  –  Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
03 Jun 2017  –  Venus at greatest elongation west

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme