Venus: The Evening Star

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Venus, the second closest planet to the sun, is also referred to as "The Evening Star".
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The Evening Star Looks for Daylight in Front of the
Sun

Venus is always the brightest heavenly light after the sun
and moon, but in February 2001 the planet will shine more
brightly than usual and be visible for several hours after
sunset. It will be so bright that you may be able to see it
before sunset each night, and in the dark countryside, this
bright planet will cast shadows on clear, moonless
evenings.

In March, Venus will come around to the near side of its
orbit toward Earth while also approaching our line of sight
with the sun. This means that Venus will set progressively
earlier each day. On March 1, Venus will disappear from
view about three hours after sunset. But by March 22 Venus
will set just 40 minutes after the sun. On March 30, Venus
will set in tandem with the sun and pass just north of it;
from that day on, the planet will rise well before the sun
and be visible in the dawn sky.

If viewed through a small telescope or quality binoculars,
Venus’s departure from the evening sky in March can be all
the more exciting. With optical aid you’ll see an
ever-longer but thinner crescent. (As the planet nears our
line of sight with the sun we see more of its night side.)
For more information on the chances of seeing Venus before
sunrise and after sunset on the same day or of viewing the
ashen light on the planet’s night side, see the March issue
of Sky & Telescope magazine, also available on
the Web.