Astronomy Essentials

Venus in the daytime: How to see it

Early morning sky, just at daybreak, with Venus and moon visible.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Alexander Krivenyshev of the website caught Venus in daytime on January 27, 2022, over New York City. Note the inset at the far right, showing the moon in a waning crescent phase that day. Now notice the middle inset. That’s a crescent Venus. It looks that way because its lighted face is turned mostly away from us now. The inset on the left shows the sun itself, which was just breaching the horizon when Alexander captured this image. Thank you, Alexander! Thank you, Alexander!

You might know that Venus is the brightest object in the sky after the sun and the moon. But, did you know you can see Venus during the day?

Cultures around the world know this. Some languages have a designated name for Venus as a daystar. For example, in many eastern European languages Venus is also known as Danica, the daystar of Slavic mythology.

When Venus is near its greatest brilliancy, as it is in early February 2022, it’s easiest to spot shining out from a blue sky. Venus is currently a morning object, so you can find it before sunup and watch it with the eye until after the sun rises. At the end of the month, around the morning of February 27, the crescent moon will pass close to Venus. These pairings are ideal for photographers.

Why can you see Venus during the day? Because Venus is so bright thanks to its location near us, proximity to the sun and reflective clouds. The only natural objects in the sky that outshine Venus are the sun and moon.

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How to see Venus in the daytime

There are many different techniques for spotting Venus in the daytime. Some of the more common are mentioned here:

1. Venus in the predawn sky

2. Venus when our moon is nearby

3. Venus when it’s transiting through the meridian

Venus in the daytime: Three charts showing Venus as a dot rising higher in the sky beside a tree.
View larger. | The easiest way to see Venus in the daytime is to start when it’s still night. Find Venus near the sunrise point in the morning. Be sure to position it near a tree, lamppost or building in your foreground. Then keep track of it after the sun rises and the sky turns blue. Chart via John Jardine Goss.

Observe Venus in the predawn sky

Take advantage of Venus’s brilliance this month 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.

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, to 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 relationship 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.

– Speaking of the moon … see the charts below and read on.

Charts for Venus and the moon in February

Chart: Venus as white dot with red Mars smaller below and crescent moon farthest down.
On the morning of February 27, 2022, watch for planets and the moon. The waning crescent will form a line with Mars and Venus – in the sunrise direction – shortly before sunup. This chart shows the Northern Hemisphere view. From this hemisphere, unless you’re an experienced observer with an excellent sky (and possibly optical aid), you probably won’t see the moon on February 28. The view is much better from the Southern Hemisphere! Chart via John Jardine Goss.
Mars above Venus and then a gap with Mercury above Saturn by horizon. Moon passing on right.
Here’s the view from the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re down there, try looking both on the mornings of February 27 and February 28. You’ll have a chance to see not 2 but 4 planets close to the horizon. We in the Northern Hemisphere can’t see this (or at least not without difficulty). It’s better from the Southern Hemisphere because the ecliptic, or path of the sun, moon and planets, always makes a steep (favorable) angle with the predawn horizon in autumn (which it nearly is, for the southern part of Earth). Chart via John Jardine Goss.

Observe Venus when the moon is nearby

On the mornings around February 27, the waning crescent moon and Venus will be in the same neighborhood of the sky. That’ll be an excellent time to look because Venus will still be relatively near its February 9, 2022, greatest brilliancy. If you catch a good photo of the moon and Venus, be sure to submit it to EarthSky!

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. This 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, and click forward through the dates.

Of course, 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 a fixed location on Earth, occultations of Venus are rare.

Chart: White dot of Venus, red Mars to the right, smaller dot for Saturn below, moon at bottom.
On the morning of March 28, 2022, watch for these morning planets and the moon. You’ll see brilliant Venus, Saturn and Mars with the crescent moon. Mars will form a near right triangle with Venus and Saturn on that morning.

Observe Venus transiting 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. So, 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). And 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. At the moment it transits the meridian, Venus is the 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.

As it’s not easy to judge angles in the sky, start observing low in the direction of south (or north) and then move slowly upwards, until you meet a bright point of light.

Star chart showing sun on left and Venus crossing a green line.
Position of Venus transiting the meridian on February 9, 2022, from latitude 40 degrees north. Venus is due south while the sun is nearly due southeast, some 38 degrees east of Venus. The sun transits the meridian about two and a half hours later in an event called astronomical noon. Courtesy of Sky Safari and Milan B.

A daylight Venus photo gallery

Blue background with white crescent.
Steven Bellavia caught this image of crescent Venus in a daytime sky from Mattituck, New York, on November 23, 2018. He offers these tips for seeing Venus in a daylight sky. 1. Put a building between you and the sun. Make sure you are completely in the shade of the building and cannot see the sun. 2. Start with low-power binoculars or a hand-held 6×30 finder scope (NEVER point either of these at or near the sun!) 3. After finding Venus with the binoculars or a finder scope, slowly and carefully remove the binocular or finder scope away from your eyes, without moving your head, and try to spot Venus with your eyes. Thanks, Steven!
Tree in foreground with crescent moon in blue sky and white dot in corner.
“Moon, Venus, Earth,” wrote Brett Joseph in San Anselmo, California, on December 3, 2018. Can’t see Venus in this daylight photo? It’s in the lower left.
Blue sky with white arc for moon next to white arc for Venus.
Crescent Venus (left) and crescent moon, through a telescope, in daytime. Image via Ivan Eder.

Bottom line: February 2022 is a great month to try to spot Venus in a daytime sky. Venus shines at its brightest around the morning of February 9, and the moon passes Venus at the end of the month.

Read more: 10 surprising space objects to see in the daytime sky.

February 1, 2022
Astronomy Essentials

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