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Stars and planets in the daytime

The moon will be farther from Venus on Thursday morning, near the planet Mercury.

Tonight for February 26, 2014

Telescopic view of daytime Venus (l) and moon via NASA

Telescopic view of daytime Venus (left) and moon (right) via NASA

Click here for best photos of this morning’s spectacular conjunction of the moon and Venus.

Today’s spectacular conjunction of the moon and Venus is now past, but you can still see Venus near the moon on Thursday morning, February 27. Look east before dawn. The bright object near the moon on Thursday morning is the planet Mercury. As dawn breaks, Mercury will disappear, but Venus and the moon will be visible for some time in the brightening sky.

People often ask if stars are up there, beyond our blue sky, during the day.

The answer is surely yes, because Earth is a planet in space, surrounded on all sides by stars. The image at right is Venus and the moon, seen through a telescope, in daytime. Venus is the most commonly seen daytime sky object, after the sun and moon. Meanwhile, the chart at the top of this post shows the stars toward the southeast at morning in late February or early March. Of course you really can’t see the stars, but they are there.

The constellation behind the sun around now is Aquarius the Water Bearer. Every year, the sun passes in front of Aquarius from about February 16 to March 12. The stars cannot be seen because of the glare of the sun. But sometimes when there is a total solar eclipse and the sun’s light is blocked, stars can be seen in the daytime sky.

When is the next total solar eclipse in the U.S.?

There are other constellations up during the day today. They are the same ones, in the same relationship to each other, that you will see at evening six months from now … when Earth has moved halfway around in its orbit of the sun … and our night sky, not our daytime sky, is pointing out on this region of the galaxy.

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