Throughout the year, Venus makes its presence known in our nighttime sky. It becomes bold and bright around the heart of winter. I saw the planet shining bright when the skies were clear. It is hard to miss! Venus is the next brightest object in the sky behind the sun and the moon.
Venus is notoriously at its brightest from late January through mid-February. You can best spot the planet in the early dawn before the sun begins to rise in the eastern sky. At this point in the year, Venus will actually appear as a small crescent, not the typical spherical shape we often describe stars and planets. In fact, Venus is so bright this time of year, you can often spot it throughout the day as well!
The planet is extra bright to the human eye for a few reasons. The first is its proximity to Earth. Being the next planet toward the sun, the physical distance from Earth is the main factor as to why it is so visible. The other main reason is its composition. Venus is known for its gaseous atmosphere. The gases and clouds are so thick, they actually reflect more than 70 percent of incoming sunlight. This means the planet has a high albedo, essentially reflecting a lot of the solar radiation. This allows us on Earth to get a good glimpse at the planet.
Keep an eye out for Venus on clear days.
-Meteorologist Warren Sears