© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Venus
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Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2020 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.5.

From Fairfield , this apparition will be well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 40° above the horizon at sunrise on 2 Sep 2020.

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2020 morning apparition of Venus

03 Jun 2020 – Venus at inferior solar conjunction
08 Jul 2020 – Venus at greatest brightness
12 Aug 2020 – Venus at dichotomy
13 Aug 2020 – Venus at greatest elongation west
02 Sep 2020 – Venus at highest altitude in morning sky

The table below lists the altitude of Venus at sunrise over the course of the apparition. All times are given in Fairfield local time.

Date Sun
rises at
rises at
at sunrise
at sunrise
Mag Phase
14 Jun 202005:1704:27east-4.14%
24 Jun 202005:1903:4716°east-4.412%
04 Jul 202005:2303:1622°east-4.522%
14 Jul 202005:3002:5328°east-4.530%
24 Jul 202005:3802:3832°east-4.438%
03 Aug 202005:4802:2936°east-4.444%
13 Aug 202005:5802:2638°east-4.350%
23 Aug 202006:0802:2939°east-4.255%
02 Sep 202006:1802:3740°east-4.260%
12 Sep 202006:2802:4940°east-4.264%
22 Sep 202006:3803:0539°east-4.168%
02 Oct 202006:4803:2437°east-4.172%
12 Oct 202006:5903:4336°east-4.175%
22 Oct 202007:1004:0433°south-east-4.079%
01 Nov 202006:2203:2531°south-east-4.081%
11 Nov 202006:3403:4828°south-east-4.084%
21 Nov 202006:4604:1025°south-east-4.087%

Altitude of Venus at sunrise

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Apparitions of Venus

17 Aug 2018 – Evening apparition
06 Jan 2019 – Morning apparition
24 Mar 2020 – Evening apparition
13 Aug 2020 – Morning apparition
29 Oct 2021 – Evening apparition
20 Mar 2022 – Morning apparition
04 Jun 2023 – Evening apparition

Observing Venus

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 04h28m10s 17°15'N Taurus 38.2"
Sun 07h11m +22°25' Gemini 31'27"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 08 Jul 2020

The sky on 08 July 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

17-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


17 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:57 12:09 19:20
Venus 03:07 10:13 17:20
Moon 22:35 03:37 08:46
Mars 00:12 06:12 12:13
Jupiter 20:43 01:25 06:06
Saturn 21:05 01:52 06:39
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

26 Mar 2020  –  Venus at highest altitude in evening sky
13 Aug 2020  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
02 Sep 2020  –  Venus at highest altitude in morning sky
29 Oct 2021  –  Venus at greatest elongation east

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes






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