The planet of Venus has caused a spike in traffic to this blog, mostly by people trying to find out what that bright star next to the Moon is.
Yes, it’s Venus. Yes, you really can see it in the day if you know where to look.
Here’s the skinny: Find the moon (it will be about halfway across the sky from the Sun along the ecliptic). Block the Sun with one hand, and with your other hand hold up two fingers at arms length. That’s about the distance that Venus will appear below and to the right of the Moon. Be patient, and let your eyes adjust.
Woop, there it is…
Today I repeated my ‘Daylight Venus’ observation. All in all, it wasn’t too difficult. While I was standing outside my daughter’s classroom, waiting for the door to open so I could take her home, I spotted the crescent moon. Knowing that today and tomorrow were the days that the moon would be the closest to Venus, I shielded my eyes from the sun with my right hand, while I looked to the left of the moon for Venus. After a few minutes I spotted it, about two fingers-breadth away from the moon, to the left.
(No, I didn’t care that people were looking at me weird as I stood in the playground with my hands up in the air, peering at the sky. Some events are just too much fun for decorum!)
This was in full sunlight, at about 4:00 PM!
Tomorrow I’m going for a three-peat! The moon will be just above and to the left of Venus, and about the same distance away. Get out and take a look!
See also this post, and this one too.
Finding Venus in the daylight
Yes, it is possible to see Venus in the daylight. Right now is a great time to try. Find the moon, and about three degrees below it and off to the right (West) will be a bright spot. I just did it myself. WOOT!
UPDATE; January 30 2009: You can repeat the feat today. Venus will again be below and to the right of the moon.