VENUS is the third brightest object in our skies and can even be seen during the day – but is Venus visible right now? An astronomer told Express.co.uk how to spot Venus over the UK.
Venus is the second planet from the Sun and is currently creeping closer to our planet. After the Sun and the Moon, the planet is the third brightest object and has been mistaken for a star in the past. According to astronomer Dave Eagle of Star-Gazing.co.uk, Venus is slowly growing in size as it comes closer to Earth.
Mr Dave told Express.co.uk: “Have you been stand out in the garden lately just as it is getting dark?
“The chances are, if you have a clear horizon over towards the west you will not be able to miss an extremely bright ‘star’ shining back at you.
“This is, in fact, one of the eight major planets in our solar system, the planet Venus.
“What you are looking at is a planet that is only just slightly smaller than the Earth you are standing on. Look at it carefully.
“Some of the other bright stars visible will probably be twinkling away madly.
“But Venus light looks as steady as a rock.”
Because Venus is a planet, it has a distinct disk which makes it harder for our atmosphere to disrupt the light bouncing off of it.
As a result, Mr Dave said the planet twinkles a lot less when compared to stars.
He said: “Venus is perpetually covered in white clouds. These reflect lots of sunlight back to us, this is what makes the planet extremely bright.
“So bright in fact, that it can be seen with the naked eye during the day if you know where to look.”
The planet is at its brightest this month, appearing in the western skies about the time of sunset.
Mr Dave said: “Venus will move ever closer to the Sun over the coming weeks, getting lower and lower in the evening sky every evening.
“By the end of May, it will have disappeared into the evening twilight and be lost from view.”
Venus will appear tonight in the western skies, shining brightly until about midnight.
When viewed from London, for instance, the planet will be positioned next to the constellation Taurus.
Mr Eagle said: Venus gets so big, that you can actually see the shape of the planet using a simple pair of binoculars.
“If you have a small telescope it will give you a better view as you can use a higher magnification to make the planet bigger.”
And the good news is the planet will reappear in July, shining brightly in the morning skies.
As a result, the planet is sometimes known as the evening star and morning star at different times of the year.
Mr Eagle said: “For those of you who like getting up in the very early hours before dawn, in mid-July Venus will re-appear low in the morning pre-dawn sky.
“At this time there will be another bonus viewing as there are another 3 bright planets on view.
“Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will also be visible above the horizon at this time.
“This will make it a great time to view these four most fascinating planets.”
Mr Eagle is an amateur astronomer and planetarium operator, which tours around schools, and runs the free Virtual Astronomy club.