Venus During the Day

In addition to being a stunningly beautiful sight at night, the Venus-Moon conjunction on Saturday, February 25th, is an ideal opportunity to view Venus during broad daylight.

Venus and the Moon, February 25, 2012
The relative orientation of Venus and the Moon depends where you live and when you observe them. This shows their relationship an hour before sunset for the major North American times zones and various countries in Europe. Earlier in the afternoon, the Moon will be lower with respect to Venus.
Tony Flanders
Venus is now so far from the Sun in the sky that it's easy to see on any clear day. However, it's generally very hard to locate its pinprick of light against the vast expanse of blue sky. That problem is solved on Saturday, when the crescent Moon points the way.

As long as the air is clear, Venus should be visible any time in the afternoon, but it will get easier as the Sun gets lower. Here's the easiest way.

Go out an hour before sunset, and find a building that can block the Sun. Stand just inside the edge of the building's shadow, so you can see the Sun's glow but not the Sun itself. Look for the Moon 40° above that spot and about 15° to the left. (A fist at arm's length marks off about 10°.) It's a pretty thin crescent, so it probably won't pop out instantly.

Now look a two or three degrees (finger-widths) left or lower-left of the Moon for Venus. The exact relationship depends where you live, as shown in the diagram at upper right. Earlier in the afternoon, the Moon will be lower relative to Venus.

Binoculars make sighting Venus easy, but they shouldn't be necessary if the air is reasonably clear.

9 thoughts on “Venus During the Day

  1. Grant Miller

    On Sunday, Feb 19 I aligned my goto C8 on the Sun about 50 minutes before sunset. I then slewed to Venus. Using the scope tube as an aid, I was able to easily spot Venus with my 49 yr old naked-eyes(except for glasses). Then tried this with Jupiter. I failed, but my 14 yr old son had no problem seeing it, also.

  2. John Bordelon

    I was very surprised to be able to see Venus in daylight, and with just a pair of 10×50 binos. It wasn’t hard to do. Using one of my planetarium programs, I could see that Venus was halfway in between the sun and the moon about mid-afternoon. I carefully positioned myself so that my house blocked the sun, and then scanned between the sun and the moon in an arc. Venus popped right into view in the binos, although I couldn’t find it with my naked eye. It was very tiny but bright. Jupiter was nearby, but I couldn’t find it with the binos. It was a very interesting experience. Most people are amazed to know that it can be done. Once I get out and find it with my short tube 80 on a tripod, I can show it to the grandchildren.

  3. Anthony Barreiro

    Thanks for this guide. I’ve been following Venus in twilight, and I’ll try to see her during the afternoon tomorrow. I’ve been using a five-inch schmidt cassegrain telescope with a variable polarizing filter to reduce the brightness of the sky and the glare from Venus. At about 80x magnification you can easily see that Venus now looks like a half moon as she starts to pass between Earth and Sun.

  4. Warren

    For months I’ve been able to spot Jupiter quite easily and routinely on clear days in the early afternoon (1 to 2 pm local time). The trick is to establish a reference to guide your gaze and a location to stand or sit which you can return to at the same time each clear day. This time I used an awning of a house and shifted the position I needed to stand by incremental amounts to keep Jupiter aligned with the house awning. It isn’t uncommon to acquire Jupiter within a minute of careful slow-scanning with your eyes around the expected position.

  5. Karsten Bomholt, Denmark

    One of the most popular attractions is to show Venus in daylight. If possible, this is always a feature of the program when my astronomy club participates in exhibitions and fairs, that take place during daytime.

  6. bob kelly

    Saw Venus about one-half a thumb length directly below the moon at 12:30pm EST, without optical aid. Cumulus clouds around them were very bright but they also helped to focus my eyes on the distant objects The moon was easy to see, but Venus took some time to pick out.

    bob kelly
    just north of new york city

  7. Ted A. Hunt

    I waited until the sun was low enough to be a dazzling orange yellow. Numerous vitreous floaters can make it slow for me to pick out Venus in the daylight sky, but I used the crescent moon to establish my focal distance as Mr. Kelly used the high cirrus. The moon was already easy to see and Venus popped out immediately.

    A daytime view is fun, but wasn’t it glorious after sunset? I actually took some decent photos with my smartphone’s camera, held steady atop a high post!

  8. Marshall H. Crenshaw

    I meant to look Saturday but forgot. Went out today about 11am. Took about 15 minutes and 3 tries before I finally spotted with binoculars. Easy to see with naked eye but hard to find! Once seen hard to imagine how you could miss it, but after you turn away takes a while to locate again. Got my 15 year old son to look. We then got out my telescope (8" SC) and viewed moon and Venus in daytime sky. Venus at about 1/2 phase. More fun than I remember.
    Last time I saw was several years ago while hunting in S. Dakota, right next to the moon. Farther away and a little more challenge this time.

  9. Steve

    I was out before dawn noticing the half moon when something bright caught my attention through the trees. Moving for a clearer view I knew it was Venus…. and Jupiter was just above it. I stayed out until just a few minutes ago…. the sun is up and I can still find Venus. Its about 80* from the moon and in line with the moon and the sun. Its easier to spot with binoculars, but then you can still see it without.

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