Since a very young age, I have always loved looking at the night sky. Watching the stars, moon, planets, and comets is something I will never tire of.
On February 16 through 17, Venus will light up the night sky. It will be so bright, in fact, you might be able to see your shadow by it’s light – how cool is that – your shadow, cast from a distant planet?! I’m looking forward to spotting my shadow, and if I see it, I’ll definitely be dancing! I challenge you to test this out with me, and then report back here to let me know if it worked for you.
To see Venus at the brightest it’s been in 5 years (at least as observed from Earth), look toward the western sky just after sunset. You won’t be able to miss Venus – it shines at magnitude -4.8, making it ten times brighter than the evening sky’s second-brightest object, Jupiter. At this magnitude, you’ll be able to see Venus even when surrounded by city lights.
To see your shadow by the light of this planet, you’ll need to be in a rural area, far away from city lights. If you stand with your back toward Venus, look on the ground for your shadow. If the ground is covered with snow where you are, it will be much easier to see your shadow. If you have no snow, hold a sheet of white paper with one hand and position your other hand between the paper and Venus to see if you can see a shadow on the paper.
If the skies are clear where you are this Friday night, make sure to look up and to the west… and don’t forget your dancing shoes!
BONUS TIP: Look to the southwest sky during the night of the 17th and you might be able to spot an iridium flare! Check Heavens Above to pinpoint exactly where to look in your neck of the woods.
For more details about spotting Venus in February, check out the EarthSky website.