© 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 2016–2017 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.6.

From Seattle , this apparition will be well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 36° above the horizon at sunset on 11 Feb 2017.

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2016–2017 evening apparition of Venus

12 Jan 2017 – Venus at greatest elongation east
14 Jan 2017 – Venus at dichotomy
11 Feb 2017 – Venus at highest altitude in evening sky
18 Feb 2017 – Venus at greatest brightness

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

Date Sun
sets at
Venus
sets at
Altitude
at sunset
Direction
at sunset
Mag Phase
13 Nov 201616:3618:3812°south-west-4.174%
23 Nov 201616:2718:5414°south-4.171%
03 Dec 201616:2119:1817°south-4.268%
13 Dec 201616:2119:4220°south-4.264%
23 Dec 201616:2120:0424°south-4.360%
02 Jan 201716:3020:2927°south-4.456%
12 Jan 201716:4120:5131°south-4.451%
22 Jan 201716:5421:0634°south-west-4.546%
01 Feb 201717:1321:1636°south-west-4.639%
11 Feb 201717:2921:2136°south-west-4.632%
21 Feb 201717:4321:1535°south-west-4.624%
03 Mar 201717:5820:5429°west-4.615%
13 Mar 201719:1221:0818°west-4.46%

Altitude of Venus at sunset

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Apparitions of Venus

23 Mar 2014 – Morning apparition
06 Jun 2015 – Evening apparition
26 Oct 2015 – Morning apparition
12 Jan 2017 – Evening apparition
02 Jun 2017 – Morning apparition
17 Aug 2018 – Evening apparition
05 Jan 2019 – 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 00h27m20s 7°57'N Pisces 39.9"
Sun 22h08m -11°29' Aquarius 32'21"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 18 February 2017
Sunrise
07:08
Sunset
17:40
Twilight ends
19:24
Twilight begins
05:24

21-day old moon
Waning Crescent

46%

21 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:57 11:40 16:23
Venus 08:03 14:42 21:20
Moon 00:54 06:03 11:01
Mars 08:40 15:11 21:41
Jupiter 22:12 03:42 09:13
Saturn 03:40 07:58 12:17
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

11 Feb 2017  –  Venus at highest altitude in evening sky
02 Jun 2017  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
22 Aug 2017  –  Venus at highest altitude in morning sky
21 May 2018  –  Venus at highest altitude in evening sky

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

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