Venus Brightest in February: See Your Shadow by Venus Light

Planet Venus Reflection

Venus reflection on the water.

Peter Lawrence/NASA

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Dazzling Venus is getting even brighter in February! And “dazzling” is no exaggeration. The evening star will reach its greatest brilliance on February 16–17.

Here are highlights of some serious in-your-face performances unfolding right now.

Venus in the Sky for February 2017

  • On Tuesday, January 31, at nightfall, look for the crescent Moon to form a gorgeous triangle with brilliant Venus and fainter, orange Mars. Simply look westward, you can’t miss it.
  • The next night, Wednesday, February 1, those three bodies align to make a straight line.
  • As the first week of February ends, the Moon moves away and little orange Mars hovers at its closest to dazzling Venus. And dazzling is no exaggeration.
  • Venus shines at its very brightest starting February 6, and maintains this dazzle all month.
  • After the Full Moon on the night of the 10th, the Moon soon vanishes, leaving Venus with no competition to dominate the first half of each night.

Venus Reaches Greatest Brilliance on February 16–17

Venus will be shining at its brightest and best in the evening sky for a few days around February 16 to 17.

On the night of February 16 into the week hours of the 17th, Venus reaches its greatest illuminated extent as the evening “star,” marking its greatest brilliancy in the night sky. 

This means that Venus’s illuminated side (what we see) covers more square area of Earth’s sky than at any other time of the year. So, Venus is brighter now than at any other time during its current 9.6-month reign in the evening sky.

Planet Mars remains near Venus in the west after sunset.

Look towards the western skies any time after sunset to see Venus. The peak of its brilliance will be around  2 A.M. EST, 1 A.M. CST, 12 Midnight MST, and 11 P.M. PST (on February 16).

Interestingly, if you looked through a telescope, you would see that Venus is only at crescent stage, not a fully-illuminated disk, but this is the time when it’s closest to Earth.

Shadows of Venus

Fact of Fiction? Venus can be bright enough to cast shadows.

It’s rare but with Venus reaching peak brightness on February 16–17, there’s no better time to attempt to see this elusive thing.

The other requirement is very dark skies in the countryside, far from artificial lights.

Those shadows are strangely sharp-edged. And although dim, they’re not truly hard to see on a white surface like snow.

Or, hold your hand in front of a white piece of paper (with your back to Venus) and see if you can spot a faint shadow by the light of another planet.

Let us know if you see your shadow by Venus light!

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. Wondering which bright objects you’re seeing in the night sky? Want to learn about a breathtaking sight coming up? Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, we’ll cover everything under the Sun (and Moon)!

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Will all of these viewings be in the Western sky?

Hello-
I was just wondering if all of these viewings will be in the western sky in Feb 2017?

Thanks!

Venus in February

Hi Diana, Thanks for your question.  Yes, each Full Moon will appear in the western sky—but only between midnight and dawn. The closer to dawn, the more westerly will the Full Moon be. Best, Bob

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