© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

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Ashburn
The sky at

Venus will be well placed for observation in the dawn sky, shining brightly at mag -4.7.

From Ashburn, it will rise at 03:52 (EST) – 3 hours and 18 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 29° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:50.

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Venus's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time.

It is observable only for a few weeks each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation.

On these occasions, however, 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 or 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 in coming weeks

The key moments in this apparition of Venus are as follows:

25 Sep 2018 00:17 EDT – Venus at greatest brightness
26 Oct 2018 10:11 EDT – Venus at inferior solar conjunction
29 Nov 2018 21:23 EST – Venus at greatest brightness
05 Jan 2019 14:16 EST – Venus at dichotomy
06 Jan 2019 01:02 EST – Venus at greatest elongation west

Over coming weeks, the distance between Venus and the Sun will decrease each night as it sinks back into the Sun's glare. The table below lists how long before sunrise Venus will rise each night; all times are given in Ashburn local time.

Date Sun
sets at
Venus
rises at
Altitude of Venus
at sunrise
Direction of Venus
at sunrise
23 Nov 201806:5804:0828°west
30 Nov 201807:0603:5131°west
07 Dec 201807:1203:4133°west
14 Dec 201807:1803:3733°west
21 Dec 201807:2303:3733°west
28 Dec 201807:2603:4032°west
04 Jan 201907:2703:4531°west
11 Jan 201907:2703:5229°west
18 Jan 201907:2504:0128°west
25 Jan 201907:2104:1026°west
01 Feb 201907:1604:1824°west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Venus's position

The coordinates of Venus when it reaches greatest brightness will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Venus 13h47m20s -09°45' Virgo 41.3"
Sun 16h23m -21°34' Scorpius 32'25"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 29 November 2018
Sunrise
07:06
Sunset
16:47
Twilight ends
18:22
Twilight begins
05:32

22-day old moon
Waning Crescent

49%

22 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:37 11:35 16:34
Venus 03:51 09:22 14:53
Moon 22:55 05:46 12:38
Mars 12:45 18:17 23:49
Jupiter 06:53 11:46 16:39
Saturn 09:23 14:07 18:51
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

17 Aug 2018, 03:58 EDT  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
06 Jan 2019, 01:02 EST  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
24 Mar 2020, 03:31 EDT  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
13 Aug 2020, 09:03 EDT  –  Venus at greatest elongation west

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EST

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