Usually, when a bright planet is visible in the predawn morning hours, we refer to it as a “morning star.” However, for the current situation regarding the planet Venus, “morning lantern” might be a better term!
This week Venus rises in the east around 3:45 a.m., a silvery-white beacon. In fact it will be shining at its greatest brilliance all week, attaining an astonishing peak brightness of -4.9 magnitude. It’s now 25 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest of all stars in our sky. In fact, it’s so bright that in dark, non-light-polluted areas it can cast a faint, albeit distinct shadow. You can also see it on very clear days with the naked eye even after sunrise. Keep track of where it is through sunup; you should still be able to see Venus as a tiny white “speck” against the blue sky.
Venus Through Binoculars
Try examining the crescent of Venus in a telescope or binoculars. A steady mounting for the binoculars – even just bracing them against the side of a tree – can make all the difference in the world.
Venus’s Other Name?
Like Mercury, during the pre-Christian era, Venus actually had two names, as it was not realized it could alternately appear on one side of the Sun and then the other. Venus was known as Phosphorus when it was a morning object and Hesperus when in the evening sky.