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Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

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The sky at

Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2017 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.5.

From Fairfield , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent but prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 31° above the horizon at sunrise on 9 Aug 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 sunrise over the course of the apparition. All times are given in Fairfield local time.

Date Sun
sets at
rises at
at sunrise
at sunrise
01 May 201705:5204:0918°north-west
11 May 201705:4103:5119°north-west
21 May 201705:3203:3521°north-west
31 May 201705:2503:2022°north-west
10 Jun 201705:2303:0824°north-west
20 Jun 201705:2302:5726°north-west
30 Jun 201705:2602:4928°north-west
10 Jul 201705:3302:4429°north-west
20 Jul 201705:4102:4431°north-west
30 Jul 201705:5002:4931°north-west
09 Aug 201705:5902:5931°north-west
19 Aug 201706:0903:1330°north-west
29 Aug 201706:1903:3229°north-west
08 Sep 201706:2903:5328°north-west
18 Sep 201706:3904:1526°north-west
28 Sep 201706:4904:3823°west
08 Oct 201707:0005:0121°west
18 Oct 201707:1105:2418°west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2017 morning apparition of Venus
25 Mar 2017 – Venus at inferior solar conjunction
26 Apr 2017 – Venus at greatest brightness
03 Jun 2017 – Venus at greatest elongation west
04 Jun 2017 – Venus at dichotomy
30 Jul 2017 – Venus reaches highest point in morning 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 23h53m10s +01°28' Pisces 40.5"
Sun 02h16m +13°40' Aries 31'46"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 26 April 2017
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

29-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


29 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:32 12:11 18:49
Venus 04:19 10:27 16:36
Moon 06:30 13:07 19:45
Mars 07:15 14:39 22:03
Jupiter 17:46 23:32 05:23
Saturn 23:39 04:24 09:04
All times shown in EDT.


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 Apr 2017  –  Venus at greatest brightness
03 Jun 2017  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
04 Jun 2017  –  Venus at dichotomy
12 Jun 2017  –  Venus at aphelion

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