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Sunday, June 17, 2007


Seeing Venus in the Daylight

The northern horizon as seen from the southern hemisphere around 3:00pm local time. The positions of the Moon and Venus are indicated. (click on image to enlarge it to useful size)

Venus is currently bright enough to see in the daylight. However, as it is a tiny dot in the vast expanse of sky, finding it can be difficult. If the Moon is nearby, you can use it as your guide to find Venus.

On Monday 18 June the 12% illuminated thin crescent Moon will be just a handspan from Venus. So to find Venus, first locate the Moon, then look a handspan to the right and slightly up form the Moon. The Moon itself will be relatively difficult to see unaided, but at 3:00 pm on Monday it will be almost due north and between 5 to 6 handspans above the northern horizon (see the diagram above). Once you find the Moon, Venus will be very easy to find nearby. You can of course view at other times, but the 3:00 pm time gives a better guide to the Moon.

As this is a daytime observation be VERY careful of the Sun, do NOT look directly at the Sun. It is 7 handspans away from the Moon, but care is still needed. Make sure a building, wall or tree is blocking out the Sun before attempting viewing. This improves safety, and improves your ability to see Venus and the Moon as well. If using binoculars ALWAYS make sure you are pointing them a away from the Sun, exercise extreme caution, as you can lose your eyesight if you accidentally look at the Sun through binoculars.

In other parts of the world they will see a daytime occulation of Venus, there will be an attempt to webcast this event (tip of the hat to daveP). More details at the Society for Popular Astronomy.

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