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Venus Visible Before Sunset Now

Venus can be seen twenty minutes before sunset as we head into April 2023. You don't have to wait for the July 19 moon to guide you to the planet. Though the moon is a useful tool in finding it, Venus is bright enough at magnitude= -4.0 for the naked eye to discern. You just have to pick out the small white dot against the bright pre-sunset background sky. Be patient.

On March 27, 2023, I saw Venus more than twenty minutes before the 8:06 p.m. EDT sunset. The sun was dropping behind trees when I found earth's sister planet halfway between the low sun and the crescent moon high overhead. What a welcome sight! To help me stay focused on the target Venus against the open blue sky, I relocated so Venus was visible just above a tree top.

By 7:43 p.m. EDT Venus was beginning to show up in photographs, several minutes after being first spotted with the naked eye. It's there. You just have to zoom in on the circle in the image below and the star-like object becomes apparent.

When a family passed by, I hailed them down and asked if they wanted to see a celestial sight few other people have. I always appreciate it when passers-by take a chance, not knowing who I am or what I'm asserting. After they observed and continued onward, sunshine against the background trees confirmed the sun had not yet set.

Several minutes later I again relocated in time for a contrail to mark the altitude of Venus, circled in red.

This night several planets were conveniently aligning, and despite the planets' being a challenge to see, some media were reporting the alignment as a worthy observational event. I stayed well past the time Jupiter and Mercury should have been visible in the low western sky, but I did not see them, as expected. The pair are only eight degrees above the horizon at sunset, less than the height of your fist held at arm's length. By the time it darkens, they are too close to the horizon and in atmospheric muck, unless you have a telescope or a spectacular western horizon.

The SkyView phone app shows the planets in their respective locations, though they are exaggerated in size many times larger than the points of lights they appear to be. If you do go out searching for planets now, look for brilliant Venus toward the west and reddish Mars, magnitude= +0.9, high overhead as the night begins.

So, despite my suggestion to use the moon to find Venus in the daytime sky, I encourage you not to wait. If the sky is clear, start looking before sunset in Spring 2023. You may be one of the few people who can claim to have seen Venus naked eye while the sun was above the horizon.


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