Starwatch Blog: The brightest planet to shine its best this week


This week in the sky, Venus will reach its greatest illuminated extent on Tuesday, April 28th. 

Venus has been shining bright in our west sky for a few months now, but this week the planet will be three times brighter than it was a few months ago.

A view of Venus in early April 2020 from Bays Mountain. Courtesy of Adam Thanz.

This is because Venus will be at its greatest illuminated extent. What does this mean? Venus goes through phases, just like our moon. You may think when Venus is at its “full phase” it will be the brightest, but that’s not true.

Courtesy NASA

When taking into account the positioning of the sun, Earth, and Venus, as well as angles and timing, Venus is brightest when its in a crescent phase from our view point. This only about 25% illumination! 

A view of the west sky at 9 p.m. EDT in the Tri-Cities. Courtesy Stellarium

Look in the west sky just after the sun sets this week to see Venus shining its best. Specifically, on Tuesday, April 28th at 9 p.m. EDT, Venus reaches its greatest illuminated extent. Venus will set around 11 p.m. EDT.

Thanks to for help writing this blog!

Featured image courtesy NASA

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