This Week's Amazing Sky: The Evening Star

January 29, 2016
Venus, Planet of Paradox

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Welcome to our night sky exploration. Let's have fun! I know you've already spotted the Evening Star after sunset.  

It generates more UFO reports than any other object.  It's simply the brightest thing in the sky, after the Moon. It's Venus, the closest planet to us.

Right now, Venus is about as high up as it can get. As evening twilight deepens, it's more than a third of the way up the western sky, and remains dazzling for hours. It's astronomy made easy.

At this week's end, it will float in the same spot that the Sun occupies on the summer solstice—meaning, it's at its farthest north of the year, which is one reason it's so prominent for us northern hemisphere folks.

The next evening you see the Evening Star, share these half dozen cool facts about it: 

  • It's the shiniest planet in the universe. 
  • It's so reflective because it's covered with brilliant white clouds made of sulfuric acid droplets. 
  • Venus is [also] the slowest spinning body in the known universe. You can walk as fast as it rotates!
  • It's the hottest of all worlds. 
  • And it is the only one whose size closely matches our own beloved Earth.

Does this bright body look magical? Surreal?  Last year, 2014, it was essentially invisible.  Now that it's back and at its most glorious.

What do you think when you see it? Does it impart a unique, well, feeling?  Share your thoughts.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. 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, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe