© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Venus
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The sky at

Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2019–2020 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.5.

From Ashburn , this apparition will be exceptionally well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 44° above the horizon at sunset on 24 Mar 2020.

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 Ashburn local time.

Date Sun
sets at
sets at
at sunset
at sunset
25 Dec 201916:5219:2622°south-west
04 Jan 202016:5919:5026°south-west
14 Jan 202017:0920:1229°south-west
24 Jan 202017:2020:3433°south-west
03 Feb 202017:3220:5536°south-west
13 Feb 202017:4321:1539°south-west
23 Feb 202017:5521:3341°south-west
04 Mar 202018:0521:5243°west
14 Mar 202019:1623:0943°west
24 Mar 202019:2623:2444°west
03 Apr 202019:3523:3544°west
13 Apr 202019:4523:4143°west
23 Apr 202019:5523:3839°west
03 May 202020:0423:2234°west
13 May 202020:1422:4726°west
23 May 202020:2221:5215°west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2019–2020 evening apparition of Venus
24 Mar 2020 – Venus at greatest elongation east
24 Mar 2020 – Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
26 Mar 2020 – Venus at dichotomy
28 Apr 2020 – 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 05h04m40s +27°39' Taurus 37.4"
Sun 02h24m +14°19' Aries 31'45"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 28 April 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

5-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


5 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:02 12:41 19:20
Venus 08:03 15:47 23:31
Moon 10:18 17:46 00:17
Mars 03:05 08:13 13:21
Jupiter 01:47 06:38 11:28
Saturn 02:03 06:58 11:53
All times shown in EDT.


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

28 Apr 2020  –  Venus at greatest brightness
03 Jun 2020  –  Venus at inferior solar conjunction
08 Jul 2020  –  Venus at greatest brightness
10 Jul 2020  –  Venus at aphelion

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes






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