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
This newsgroup posting comes to you directly from...
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.
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
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
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.
Or point them at Heavens above put in your latitude and longitude and
you can get predictions of ISS passes and Iridium flares too.
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:
I am sure there is a UK national astronomy week coming up soon too but
can't find any convincing date for it.
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".
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.
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  - 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.
 They did not specify that they wanted a responsible adult and that's
their problem not mine:-)
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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