The last few nights we’ve been enjoying sitting outside, reveling in the clear desert skies, the cooling temperatures, the colorful sunsets, and the emergence of the stars after the glow on the western horizon fades. But the undisputed leader of the nighttime light show is Venus, also known this time of year as the Evening Star.
The past few days, Venus hasn’t even waited for the Sun to completely set before emerging, bright and gleaming and just above the western horizon. When the curtain of darkness finally falls, Venus is seen in its full brilliance. Other than the gibbous Moon, Venus is easily the brightest object in the night sky, far brighter than Polaris or any of the constellations. It’s as if Earth’s neighboring planet has its bright lights on for safety.
We’ve just emerged from the point in the year when Venus is at its brightest, and if you’ve got clear skies and a telescope you can get a good look at the planet. Even without a telescope, Venus is a visual treat for the nighttime sky watcher. We’ve enjoyed spending some time with the Evening Star.