The past several weeks have given us plenty of time to stare up at the sky in disbelief. While doing so, you may have noticed a prominent dot hanging out near the moon. That dot is Venus, our planetary neighbor, shining in all its glory from some 40 million miles away.
Viewing Venus from Earth isn’t uncommon — it came back into view for us in mid-August in 2019 and is often the brightest object in the night sky beyond the moon — but today, April 27, it’s even brighter than normal. At 9:00 PM ET tonight, Venus will shine its brightest of any other point in 2020. The planet has been building toward this moment for more than a month, with a slight increase in brightness every day.
To see Venus at its brightest, wait until the sun goes down tonight and then gaze westward. You’ll notice a prominent circle, like a faraway spotlight, beaming toward you — that’s Venus right there.
“Venus is now nearly 3 times brighter than it was at its faintest some months ago,” according to astro-tracking website Earth Sky. “And that’s saying something, because Venus always ranks as the second-brightest heavenly body in the night sky (after the moon). It easily outshines all other planets and stars.”
So, should you be fortunate enough to have a relatively clear sky this evening, grab some binoculars and a blanket, and head outside to spend a few minutes gazing upward.