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Venus shines at its highest in the night sky this week. How to see it.

This sky map shows the view of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn just after sunset on Dec. 5, 2021, as seen from New York City.
This sky map shows the view of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn just after sunset on Dec. 5, 2021, as seen from New York City. (Image credit: Skysafari app)

Venus is at its best for viewing in the coming days, so make sure you don't miss the opportunity.

The volcanic, hellish planet will shine serenely at dusk at its highest altitude in our night sky, starting Sunday (Dec. 5). It's so bright, at magnitude -4.4, it will easily be visible to the naked eye and outshine everything around it but the moon.

While Venus has climbed higher in past orbital cycles, it will still be as much as 20 degrees above the horizon at sunset in New York City, according to EarthSky (opens in new tab). Venus will then be at its brightest on Monday (Dec. 7) as it races towards inferior solar conjunction, passing close by the sun (from our perspective) in January.

Related: Best night sky events of December 2021 (stargazing maps)

See Venus and the moon?

If you take a photograph of Venus and the moon let us know! You can send images and comments in to spacephotos@space.com.

If you're looking for binoculars or a telescope to see planets like Venus in the night sky, check our our guide for the best binoculars deals of 2021 and the best telescope deals now. If you need equipment, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography to prepare for the next planet sight.

Between Dec. 6 and Dec. 10, NASA says (opens in new tab) you can also chase the crescent moon as it visits a series of planets in the sky in turn: Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. The moon serves as a great "wayfinder" for planet-hunting when you're new to astronomy. The reason all these worlds are so close is they orbit the plane of our solar system, known as the ecliptic.

The agency advises you catch the view of Venus while you can, even in the cold. "Our cloud-covered neighbor planet will sink ever closer to the horizon during the month, disappearing for most of us by New Year's," the agency said, referring to Jan. 1 in the Gregorian calendar.

"It'll reappear in late January as a morning planet preceding the sunrise," NASA added, "and won't be back in evening skies until December of next year."

As we wait for Venus to reappear in 2022, you can also follow along with a wealth of new missions expected to target this planet in the coming years. The planet will also see some flybys in the coming years from two solar-focused missions: NASA's Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.