OT:Astonomy question (8 yr old standard)

Going out of the back door just now (17.12) the sky was clear except for a single solitary star in a SW ish direction. Is this normal and what is the star ? Thank you
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Prolly Venus, a planet not a star.
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Moron Watch wrote:

Not a star, but Mercury, it's been quite good around twilight for the last couple of months.
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On 1/20/2017 5:23 PM, Andy Burns wrote:

No, it will be Venus. Mercury can be quite bright, but is always close to the horizon and is never visible for very long.
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newshound wrote:

Yeah brainfart, I got the name right when I mentioned it elsewhere!
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Err, no.
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According to the web, its definitely Venus. I used to enjoy looking at planets in them old days of sight, but I am told that near towns not only do you get light pollution, but also a nasty yellow tint due to pollution as well.
Brian
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On 21/01/2017 08:38, Brian Gaff wrote:

Light pollution is maybe now reduced in towns that have converted to LED street lighting. Around my way the new fittings are better designed to direct the light downwards rather than attempting to light the sky above.
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Brian Gaff wrote:

Yes I knew it was Venus, but my fingers wrote Mercury, OK?
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On 17:15 20 Jan 2017, Moron Watch wrote:

Venus is very bright at the moment.
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On Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:15:18 -0000, "Moron Watch"

Not a star in fact, but the planet Venus, AKA Evening star or Morning star. Because it orbits fairly close to the Sun, it follows or precedes the Sun's path across the sky, depending which side of the Sun it is at the time. You don't see it during the day because the Sun is too bright, but it's visible just before sunrise or just after sunset.
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Yes and Venus. If you look slightly down and to the left, you can see Mars, too. There are rovers (not Rovers) trundling about there!
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Thanks for all the answers. It clearly is Venus. What's so surprising really is not how bright Venus, is but why no other stars or planets are visible - a much weaker star/planet is now just about visible near to Venus but nothing else in the entire sky. Clearly I haven't been paying sufficient attention to all this in the last 60 plus years - or just going out of the back door at the wrong time. Knowing it's Venus it might be tempting to get out the bins. However living in a suburban environment with smallish gardens, brandishing a pair of binoculars in the back garden after dark probably isn't a good idea.
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On 20/01/2017 17:15, Moron Watch wrote:

Not a star it is the planet Venus. Decent binoculars or better a small spotting scope will just about show its phase.
If the 8yo is interested then AstroFest is early next month in Kensington with loads of kit on show and talks Friday & Saturday.
http://europeanastrofest.com/
Or point them at Heavens above put in your latitude and longitude and you can get predictions of ISS passes and Iridium flares too.
http://www.heavens-above.com/
Interest in science and engineering needs to be encouraged.
Stellarium is a free planetarium program but it might be a bit much for an 8 yo. Ian Morison at Jodrell Bank does a nice monthly guide:
http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/
I am sure there is a UK national astronomy week coming up soon too but can't find any convincing date for it.
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On 1/20/2017 5:53 PM, Martin Brown wrote:

I've heard it said that people with excellent vision can just about see the crescent under optimum conditions. The give-away is to let them look through a small astronomical telescope; apparently some people say "but it is the wrong way round".
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On 20/01/2017 18:04, newshound wrote:

It might be just possible but even at inferior conjunction as a crescent it is only about 1' arc tip to tip. At maximum brightness seeing Venus at midday is an interesting challenge on a good clear day - you need to stand in the shade of a building to do it successfully.
At the moment a 60x magnification would make Venus look like a featureless first quarter moon and 20x should easily show the shape. 10x might do depending on the optical quality of the binoculars mine can't quite hack it. Obviously not a point source but no clear shape.
Alcor and Mizar is an easy naked eye double in the Big Dipper.
A much tougher test used for Roman lookouts is epsilon Lyra which is just about a naked eye double for those with exceptional vision. I could do it when much younger. It is cute in a modest telescope since each of the stars is itself a telescopic double. Looks like
: ..
A few children with very sharp eyes can just about see the Galilean satellites at maximum extension away from Jupiter. This is more limited by the glare from the planets bright disk than anything else.
Forgot to mention that the reddish bright "star" not far from Venus at about 10 o'clock is Mars but it needs a moderate scope to see any disk.
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On 20/01/2017 17:53, Martin Brown wrote:

The Iridium flares are brilliant.
I got the Scouts with that one when I went on camp - don't ask, they needed an extra adult [1] - and I had a bet with the the Scouts that if I could predict "a star" arriving and disappearing at the exact time and place of my choosing they had to clean up their tents in the morning.
[1] They did not specify that they wanted a responsible adult and that's their problem not mine:-)
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On Friday, 20 January 2017 18:49:34 UTC, ARW wrote:

As for predicting yuo should find out where the ISS is and predict that. Someone tried to convince others that it was a UFO This was outside a near Tottenham Court Road peolpe staring up and pointing. There's quite a few apps for ISS spottign and some show the onboard webcams which is nice.
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Another vote for Stellarium. A wonderful program, you can spend hours playing with it.
http://www.stellarium.org/

NAM. In Hull this July.
https://nam2017.org/
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On 21/01/2017 06:28, Mike Tomlinson wrote:

Traditionally it is in Jan or Feb with Stargazing Live from Jodrell Bank and somewhere a lot darker. Invariably it is cloudy.
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