© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at greatest brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
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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 Seattle , this apparition will be well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 37° above the horizon at sunrise on 9 Sep 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 sunrise over the course of the apparition. All times are given in Seattle local time.

Date Sun
sets at
rises at
at sunrise
at sunrise
21 Jun 202005:1303:5511°north-west
01 Jul 202005:1703:2417°north-west
11 Jul 202005:2502:5923°north
21 Jul 202005:3502:4127°north
31 Jul 202005:4702:2931°north
10 Aug 202006:0002:2434°north-west
20 Aug 202006:1402:2536°north-west
30 Aug 202006:2702:3237°north-west
09 Sep 202006:4002:4637°north-west
19 Sep 202006:5403:0337°north-west
29 Sep 202007:0703:2435°north-west
09 Oct 202007:2103:4734°north-west
19 Oct 202007:3604:1232°west
29 Oct 202007:5104:3730°west
08 Nov 202007:0604:0327°west
18 Nov 202007:2104:3024°west
28 Nov 202007:3504:5820°west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 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
09 Sep 2020 – Venus reaches highest point in morning sky

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' Taurus 38.2"
Sun 07h11m +22°25' Gemini 31'27"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 08 July 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

17-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


17 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:54 12:24 19:54
Venus 03:06 10:29 17:52
Moon 23:43 04:00 08:44
Mars 00:28 06:28 12:28
Jupiter 21:16 01:41 06:01
Saturn 21:36 02:08 06:35
All times shown in PDT.


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

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

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes




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