© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2016–2017 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.6.

From Cambridge , this apparition will be well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 40° above the horizon at sunset on 5 Feb 2017.

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 Cambridge local time.

Date Sun
sets at
Venus
sets at
Altitude
at sunset
Direction
at sunset
07 Nov 201616:2818:3116°south-west
17 Nov 201616:1918:4417°south-west
27 Nov 201616:1219:0120°south
07 Dec 201616:1019:2223°south
17 Dec 201616:1119:4326°south
27 Dec 201616:1720:0430°south
06 Jan 201716:2520:2233°south-west
16 Jan 201716:3720:3737°south-west
26 Jan 201716:4920:4939°south-west
05 Feb 201717:0220:5440°south-west
15 Feb 201717:1520:5138°south-west
25 Feb 201717:2820:3634°west
07 Mar 201717:4020:0426°west
17 Mar 201718:5220:0814°west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2016–2017 evening apparition of Venus
12 Jan 2017 – Venus at greatest elongation east
14 Jan 2017 – Venus at dichotomy
05 Feb 2017 – Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
18 Feb 2017 – 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 00h27m20s +07°57' 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
06:35
Sunset
17:19
Twilight ends
18:53
Twilight begins
05:01

21-day old moon
Waning Gibbous

51%

21 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:14 11:10 16:07
Venus 07:43 14:16 20:48
Moon 00:16 05:28 10:39
Mars 08:21 14:46 21:12
Jupiter 21:36 03:16 08:52
Saturn 02:54 07:31 12:08
All times shown in EST.

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

05 Feb 2017  –  Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
03 Jun 2017  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
05 Aug 2017  –  Venus reaches highest point in morning sky
09 Jun 2018  –  Venus reaches highest point in evening sky

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Cambridge

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

42.38°N
71.11°W
EDT

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