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Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
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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 Cambridge , this apparition will be exceptionally well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 44° above the horizon at sunset on 20 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 Cambridge local time.

Date Sun
sets at
Venus
sets at
Altitude
at sunset
Direction
at sunset
31 Dec 201916:1919:0423°south-west
10 Jan 202016:2919:3026°south-west
20 Jan 202016:4019:5430°south-west
30 Jan 202016:5320:1734°south-west
09 Feb 202017:0620:3936°south-west
19 Feb 202017:1921:0139°south-west
29 Feb 202017:3221:2141°south-west
10 Mar 202018:4422:4142°west
20 Mar 202018:5522:5944°west
30 Mar 202019:0723:1444°west
09 Apr 202019:1823:2443°west
19 Apr 202019:2923:2741°west
29 Apr 202019:4023:1736°west
09 May 202019:5122:5129°west
19 May 202020:0122:0419°west
29 May 202020:1120:55north-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
26 Mar 2020 – Venus at dichotomy
30 Mar 2020 – Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
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
Sunrise
05:42
Sunset
19:39
Twilight ends
21:27
Twilight begins
03:54

5-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

26%

5 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:31 12:14 18:58
Venus 07:22 15:20 23:19
Moon 09:39 17:18 00:01
Mars 02:46 07:46 12:47
Jupiter 01:29 06:11 10:53
Saturn 01:45 06:32 11:18
All times shown in EDT.

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

30 Mar 2020  –  Venus reaches highest point in evening sky
13 Aug 2020  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
04 Sep 2020  –  Venus reaches highest point in morning sky
29 Oct 2021  –  Venus at greatest elongation east

Image credit

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Cambridge

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

42.38°N
71.11°W
EST

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