© NASA/Ricardo Nunes

Venus at highest altitude in morning sky

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Venus
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The sky at

As seen from San Diego , Venus will reach its highest point in the sky in its 2023–2024 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.4.

From San Diego, this apparition will be reasonably placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 44° above the horizon at sunrise on 21 Oct 2023.

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2023–2024 morning apparition of Venus

13 Aug 2023 – Venus at inferior solar conjunction
18 Sep 2023 – Venus at greatest brightness
20 Oct 2023 – Venus at highest altitude in morning sky
22 Oct 2023 – Venus at dichotomy
23 Oct 2023 – Venus at greatest elongation west
04 Jun 2024 – Venus at superior solar conjunction

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

Date Sun
rises at
rises at
at sunrise
at sunrise
Mag Phase
21 Aug 202306:1305:27east-4.13%
31 Aug 202306:2004:3122°east-4.410%
10 Sep 202306:2603:5232°east-4.520%
20 Sep 202306:3203:2838°east-4.528%
30 Sep 202306:3903:1642°east-4.536%
10 Oct 202306:4603:1344°east-4.543%
20 Oct 202306:5303:1644°south-east-4.449%
30 Oct 202307:0103:2344°south-east-4.354%
09 Nov 202306:1002:3343°south-east-4.359%
19 Nov 202306:1902:4641°south-east-4.263%
29 Nov 202306:2803:0039°south-east-4.267%
09 Dec 202306:3603:1636°south-east-4.171%
19 Dec 202306:4303:3333°south-east-4.174%
29 Dec 202306:4703:5129°south-east-4.177%
08 Jan 202406:4904:0926°south-east-4.080%

Altitude of Venus at sunrise

A graph of the angular separation of Venus from the Sun around the time of greatest elongation is available here.

Apparitions of Venus

29 Oct 2021 – Evening apparition
20 Mar 2022 – Morning apparition
04 Jun 2023 – Evening apparition
23 Oct 2023 – Morning apparition
10 Jan 2025 – Evening apparition
31 May 2025 – Morning apparition
14 Aug 2026 – Evening apparition

Observing Venus

Venus's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning 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.

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.

These apparitions repeat roughly once every 1.6 years, taking place alternately in the morning and evening skies, depending whether Venus lies to the east of the Sun or to the west.

When it lies to the east, it rises and sets a short time after the Sun and is visible in early evening twilight. When it lies to the west of the Sun, it rises and sets a short time before the Sun and is visible shortly before sunrise.

At each apparition, Venus reaches a maximum separation from the Sun of around 48°. However, some times of the year are more favourable for viewing Venus than others. From San Diego, it reaches a maximum altitude of between 27° and 47° above the horizon at sunrise during each morning apparition, depending on the time of year. During its 2023–2024 apparition, it will peak at 44° above the horizon at sunrise on 21 Oct 2023.

This variability over the course of the year is due to the inclination of the ecliptic to the horizon.

The inclination of the ecliptic to the horizon

The inclination of the ecliptic to the horizon changes over the course of the year, affecting how high planets close to the Sun appear in the sky.

At all times, Venus lies close to a line across the sky called the ecliptic, which is shown in yellow in the planetarium above. This line traces the path that the Sun takes through the zodiacal constellations every year, and shows the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Since all the planets circle the Sun in almost exactly the same plane, it also closely follows the planes of the orbits of the other planets, too.

When Venus is widely separated from the Sun, it is separated from it along the line of the ecliptic. But, at different times of year, the ecliptic meets the horizon at different angles at sunrise. This means that Venus appears at different altitudes above the horizon at different times of year, even if its separation from the Sun is the same.

If the ecliptic meets the horizon at a shallow angle, then Venus has to be very widely separated from the Sun to appear much above the horizon. Conversely, if the ecliptic is almost perpendicular to the horizon, Venus may appear much higher in the sky, even if it is actually much closer to the Sun.

At sunset, the ecliptic makes its steepest angle to the horizon at the spring equinox – in March in the northern hemisphere, and in September in the southern hemisphere. Conversely, it meets the horizon at its shallowest angle at the autumn equinox. Because the seasons are opposite in the northern and southern hemispheres, a good apparition of Venus in one hemisphere will usually be poorly placed in the other.

At sunrise, these dates are also inverted, so that for morning apparitions of Venus, the ecliptic makes its steepest angle to the horizon at the autumn equinox, and its shallowest angle to the horizon at the spring equinox.

The optimum time for an apparition of Venus

The maximum altitude of Venus during all its morning apparitions between 2000 and 2050, as a function of the day of the year on which greatest western elongation occurs. Different colours show the altitudes observed from different latitudes. Click to expand.

For this reason, the day when Venus reaches its widest separation from the Sun (greatest elongation) is not necessarily the same day when it appears highest in the sky at sunrise. Venus typically appears highest in the sky a few days or weeks closer to the autumn equinox than the moment of greatest elongation.

The inclination of the ecliptic plane to the horizon at San Diego varies between 80° (sunrise at the autumn equinox) and 33° (sunrise at the spring equinox). On October 21, the ecliptic is inclined at 76° to the eastern dawn horizon, as shown by the yellow line in the planetarium above, meaning that this apparition of Venus will be reasonably placed and prominent, reaching a peak altitude of 44° above the horizon at sunrise.

Venus's position

The position of Venus when it reaches its highest point will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Magnitude Angular Size
Venus 10h48m50s 7°05'N -4.4 24.0"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 21 Oct 2023

The sky on 21 October 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

7-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


7 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:01 12:36 18:12
Venus 03:19 09:39 16:00
Moon 13:51 18:48 23:49
Mars 07:36 13:04 18:31
Jupiter 18:50 01:29 08:09
Saturn 15:30 20:59 02:28
All times shown in PDT.


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

21 Oct 2023  –  Venus at highest altitude in morning sky
23 Oct 2023  –  Venus at greatest elongation west
10 Jan 2025  –  Venus at greatest elongation east
30 Jan 2025  –  Venus at highest altitude in evening sky

Image credit

© NASA/Ricardo Nunes


San Diego



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