© 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 2020 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.5.

From Washington , this apparition will be well placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 41° above the horizon at sunrise on 2 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 Washington local time.

Date Sun
rises at
rises at
at sunrise
at sunrise
14 Jun 202006:1505:1810°east
24 Jun 202006:1704:3818°east
04 Jul 202006:2104:0825°east
14 Jul 202006:2803:4630°east
24 Jul 202006:3503:3235°east
03 Aug 202006:4303:2338°east
13 Aug 202006:5103:2140°east
23 Aug 202007:0003:2541°east
02 Sep 202007:0803:3341°east
12 Sep 202007:1603:4541°east
22 Sep 202007:2403:5940°east
02 Oct 202007:3304:1637°east
12 Oct 202007:4104:3436°east
22 Oct 202007:5104:5334°south-east
01 Nov 202007:0104:1231°south-east
11 Nov 202007:1104:3229°south-east
21 Nov 202007:2204:5326°south-east

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
02 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 05:48 12:50 19:52
Venus 03:57 10:55 17:53
Moon 23:50 04:25 09:33
Mars 00:53 06:54 12:55
Jupiter 21:09 02:07 06:59
Saturn 21:32 02:34 07:31
All times shown in MDT.


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

08 Jul 2020  –  Venus at greatest brightness
10 Jul 2020  –  Venus at aphelion
12 Aug 2020  –  Venus at dichotomy
13 Aug 2020  –  Venus at greatest elongation west

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes






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