Venus in the daytime: Best ways to see it
Seeing Venus in the daytime
Venus is bright! After the sun and the moon, it’s the brightest natural object in our sky. It’s so bright, you can sometimes see it during the day. That’s why some languages have a designated name for Venus as a daystar. For example, in Slavic mythology, Venus is known as Danica, which means daystar.
In late 2023, if you look east before sunrise, you can easily see Venus. This fall is also a good time to look for Venus in the east after sunrise. The planet reached its greatest brilliancy for this morning apparition on September 19. It’ll remain a dazzlingly bright light in the morning sky through the end of the year.
It reached its greatest elongation – its greatest apparent distance from the sunrise – on October 23, 2023. And now, Venus is descending each morning in the east before sunrise. It’s getting closer to the sunrise each day until it disappears from view in March 2024.
The very best time to see Venus during the day is when the moon is nearby. Check out the chart below for a great opportunity to see Venus in a blue sky on the morning of November 9, 2023.
If you catch a good photo of Venus, be sure to submit it to EarthSky!
Why is Venus so bright?
Why can you see Venus during the day? And why is Venus so bright? There are two reasons.
First, Venus is close to us. It’s the planet next-inward from Earth in orbit around the sun.
Second, Venus is covered with highly reflective clouds. Sunlight bouncing from those clouds makes Venus bright in our sky.
How to see Venus in the daytime
There are many different techniques for spotting Venus in the daytime. We discuss some of the more common methods here:
Observe Venus when the moon is nearby
The easiest way to find Venus in the daytime is just before or after an occultation by the moon. During such events, the moon passes in front of Venus from our earthly perspective. And – especially if the occultation happens in daytime from your location – you might glimpse Venus near the lighted (or darkened) edge of the moon. Unfortunately, for any fixed location on Earth, occultations of Venus are rare. Luckily, there will be an occultation of Venus visible from most of Europe and the Middle East on November 9, 2023.
If you catch a good photo of the moon and Venus, be sure to submit it to EarthSky!
See our gallery of the March 24, 2023, lunar occultation of Venus.
Even on the days the moon is not especially close to Venus in our skies, it can still help you navigate to this bright planet. That is especially true when Venus is positioned exactly halfway between the moon and the sun. This happens somewhere on Earth every month, although the three objects might not be in a perfect line. Use Stellarium to find out when this will happen next for you. Just set the scene for the early morning sky at your location, and click forward through the dates.
Observe Venus in the daytime on the meridian
Venus orbits one step inward from Earth. So we always see it near the sun in our sky, and, generally speaking, after sunrise it’s hard to see. But Venus is up there, every day, following or leading in the path of the sun across our sky. Therefore, if you could see Venus any day, you’d always notice it passing due south in your sky once a day (as seen from the Northern Hemisphere), or due north once a day (as seen from the Southern Hemisphere), just as the sun does. When Venus passes due south (or due north), astronomers say that Venus is transiting the meridian in your sky.
To find Venus as its transits your meridian, you need to know the direction south (from the Northern Hemisphere) or north (from the Southern Hemisphere). In many cities in North America, streets are aligned with north/south or east/west directions. In such cities, it’s easy to find those cardinal points.
No north-south streets? Here’s another way to find due south (or due north) in your sky. Try putting a stick in the ground and observing when the sun is highest in your sky, using your astronomy app. At the instant the sun is highest (aka astronomical noon or solar noon), the sun will be due south from the Northern Hemisphere (and due north from the Southern Hemisphere). The shadow of your stick will point to the north (or south). If you mark these cardinal directions with respect to your favorite observing spot, it’ll make your observing easier! And it’ll help you find Venus during the day.
The meridian is just an imaginary line across your sky – a great circle from due south to due north – passing through your local zenith or highest point in the sky. So at the moment it transits the meridian, Venus is at its highest in the sky for that day.
If you know the direction of south (or north), the next step is to find out how high in your sky Venus is as it transits your meridian. Your astronomy app (or Stellarium) can help you with the exact moment of meridian transit as well as exact altitude of Venus at that time.
Since it’s not easy to judge angles in the sky, start observing low in the direction of south (or north) and then move slowly upward, until you meet a bright point of light.
Observe Venus in the predawn sky
Take advantage of Venus’s brilliance by tracking it down in daylight. Finding Venus in daylight in the morning sky is much easier than finding it in the evening sky. That’s because you can start watching it before sunrise, then follow it until after sunrise. Although Venus reached greatest brilliancy in September, it still ends the month of November at a very bright magnitude -4.3.
No matter where you are on Earth, here are some general rules to follow for seeing Venus shortly after sunrise:
– Use a free astronomy app, such as Stellarium, and enter your exact location. You can find out where Venus is with respect to the sunrise (or the moon) in your sky on a specific date.
– Check a good sunrise/sunset calculator for the exact time of sunrise at your location, such as this one at Sunrise Sunset Calendars.
– Find Venus before sunrise. It’ll be easy because it’ll be the brightest starlike object in the sunrise direction. Then keep an eye on it, as long as you can, after the sun pokes above the horizon. Be sure not to look at the sun! To make it easier, position yourself so that Venus is placed in your sky in relation to a foreground object, such as a tree or utility pole. When you spot Venus in daylight, it will be small and inconspicuous. If you look away and look back, it will be hard to find it again. It helps a lot if you have an object nearby, such as a tree or the moon.
Venus in the daytime photo gallery
More Venus images
Bottom line: The moon is near Venus on November 9, 2023. That makes that morning a great time to try to spot Venus in a daytime sky.