© 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 2021 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -3.9.

From Fairfield , this apparition will not be one of the most prominent and tricky to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 16° above the horizon at sunset on 17 Jun 2021.

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 Fairfield local time.

Date Sun
sets at
sets at
at sunset
at sunset
28 Apr 202119:4520:27west
08 May 202119:5620:52west
18 May 202120:0621:1511°west
28 May 202120:1521:3613°west
07 Jun 202120:2221:5214°west
17 Jun 202120:2722:0216°west

A graph of the brightness of Venus is available here.

Observing Venus

The 2021 evening apparition of Venus
26 Mar 2021 – Venus at superior solar conjunction
28 Mar 2021 – 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 00h35m20s +02°23' Cetus 9.7"
Sun 00h30m +03°18' Pisces 32'02"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 28 March 2021
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

15-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


15 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:11 11:50 17:30
Venus 06:51 13:02 19:12
Moon 19:27 00:35 06:56
Mars 09:44 17:19 00:55
Jupiter 04:58 10:08 15:18
Saturn 04:25 09:23 14:20
All times shown in EDT.


Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.


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 Mar 2021  –  Venus at greatest brightness
12 Jun 2021  –  Venus at perihelion
02 Oct 2021  –  Venus at aphelion
28 Oct 2021  –  Venus at dichotomy

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes






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