© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

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 2018 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.6.

From Fairfield , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent but prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 28° above the horizon at sunset on 30 May 2018.

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 Fairfield local time.

Date Sun
sets at
sets at
at sunset
at sunset
11 Mar 201818:5320:0513°west
21 Mar 201819:0420:2916°west
31 Mar 201819:1520:5318°west
10 Apr 201819:2621:1821°west
20 Apr 201819:3621:4222°west
30 Apr 201819:4722:0625°west
10 May 201819:5722:2726°west
20 May 201820:0722:4527°west
30 May 201820:1622:5628°west
09 Jun 201820:2223:0027°west
19 Jun 201820:2722:5927°west
29 Jun 201820:2822:5226°west
09 Jul 201820:2522:4025°west
19 Jul 201820:2022:2523°west
29 Jul 201820:1122:0721°west
08 Aug 201820:0021:4720°west
18 Aug 201819:4621:2518°south-west
28 Aug 201819:3121:0216°south-west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2018 evening apparition of Venus
09 Jun 2018 – Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
15 Aug 2018 – Venus at dichotomy
17 Aug 2018 – Venus at greatest elongation east
25 Sep 2018 – 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 14h16m10s -20°13' Virgo 42.0"
Sun 12h06m -00°43' Virgo 31'53"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 25 September 2018
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

16-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


16 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:00 12:59 18:57
Venus 10:04 14:51 19:39
Moon 19:31 00:54 06:45
Mars 16:27 21:02 01:39
Jupiter 10:48 15:49 20:49
Saturn 14:07 18:45 23:23
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

17 Aug 2018  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
14 Dec 2018  –  Venus reaches highest point in morning sky
06 Jan 2019  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
24 Mar 2020  –  Venus at greatest elongation east

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes




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