Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Can you see Venus shining near the noon hour?

  1. Aug 17, 2010 #1
    I came out of a store, yesterday, and noticed a small shiny object in the sky, looking what you'd expect a star to look like. At first, I thought it was a high flying jet with the sun gleeming off it, but as I continued to watch it, it was obviously stationary. I watched it for several minutes with background points of reference to make sure if it WAS moving, but it was not.

    So, my initial thought was that it was Vensus, since it's been bright at night, but I haven't ever seen it shining close to noon. I live in South West Missouri, it was about 11:30 am, and I was looking towards the west, southwest, probably at a 30 degree inclination or so.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2010 #2
    I loaded up http://www.stellarium.org/" [Broken] (which is a great program), and at the time and location you gave Venus was right at the horizon slightly south of due east.

    Perhaps it was a satellite? They do move, but much slower than a plane. Heavens above is a good site to look up visible satellites.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Aug 17, 2010 #3
    Well, . . . the mystery continues. This light was completely stationary, and I watched it for several minutes. It was eventually obscured behind high clouds. I wonder what it could have been. :-/
  5. Aug 18, 2010 #4
    A geostationary satellite perhaps?
  6. Aug 18, 2010 #5
    I've seen satalites at night. They've never been as bright as this one was.

    I wonder if someone sent up a high flying weather balloon? How reflective are those? Not sure who it would have been. . . . and I've never seen anything like it before. It is perplexing. Anyone know where mars or Jupiter was at that time?
  7. Aug 18, 2010 #6
    Jupiter is dimmer than Venus and unlikely to be seen during the day. Mars is dimmer still. Plus, if I am thinking correctly, Jupiter is almost exactly opposite Venus at the moment, and Mars is just a few degrees away from Venus along with Saturn.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  8. Aug 18, 2010 #7
    It wasn't Venus, as it would have been in the oposite direction of where I was looking, according to Dale. However, if it HAD been Venus, even though it is the brightest object in the night sky [at specific times of the year, and not including the moon], could it be seen during the day, at nearly noon?

    At this point, I have no idea what it was, nor have I heard anything about anyone else seeing it.
  9. Aug 18, 2010 #8
    I've read that if you know exactly where to look, and you can block out the sun, and there's enough separation between the sun and Venus, you can see it faintly, but I've never seen it myself.
  10. Aug 18, 2010 #9
    Well, again. . . I have no idea what it could have been. Being as stationary as it was, my only thought went to Venus, but it sounds like that wasn't the case.
  11. Aug 18, 2010 #10
    I think weather balloon, or some other man made object is the best bet at this point. I'm not sure, but I think geostationary satellites are too far to be visible.

    Jack was right about the locations of the other planets. Mars was right next to Venus. Jupiter was west slightly bellow the horizon. Mercury was the only planet much above the horizon, but it is much dimmer (and was close to Venus, not near where you were looking). No natural objects were in that part of the sky that could have been visible during the day. The closest thing was Sirius which was slightly west of due south and at about 30 degrees. Sirius is the brightest star, but I'm pretty sure you can't see it during full daylight.
  12. Aug 18, 2010 #11
    A supernova somewhere out there?

    Okay, maybe not.
  13. Aug 18, 2010 #12
    Venus can be seen during the day, but only before 10:00 or after 15:00.

    Source: The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, 2nd. Ed. p. 191
  14. Aug 18, 2010 #13

    Jonathan Scott

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I've seen something star-like in daylight which appeared to be surprisingly bright and stationary for a while (and since we have a nearby airport, it took me a while to rule out an aircraft), but it was slowly varying in brightness and didn't seem to be exactly a point, perhaps more a comma-like shape. After I fetched binoculars, I'm fairly sure it was one of those mylar-type party balloons filled with helium, either heart-shaped or circular. After a while, I realized that although it was hardly moving at all relative to tree branches and similar, it was getting fainter and more point-like. I think it was both rising slightly and moving in the direction of the very light wind.
  15. Aug 19, 2010 #14


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Definitely not Venus. Venus is East of the sun at this particular point in time (as DaleSwanson has already pointed out).

    Absolutely not a geosynchronous satellite. Those puppies are quite far away (as far as artificial satellites go), dim, and you can't even see them at night with the naked eye (and even difficult with a suitably large telescope). A low-earth-orbit satellite would be more likely, such as the International Space Station (ISS), which can be seen with the nake eye, in the daytime, if it's in your location, and you know when and where to look. However low earth orbit satellites, when they are in your location, pass from one side of the sky to the other in only a few minutes. So we can rule out low-earth-orbit satellites too. [Edit: btw, the ISS is pretty much the only artificial satellite in orbit that you can see with the naked eye in the daytime. But as I've mentioned above, we can rule it out because it would be moving too fast.]

    Weather balloon. http://www.websmileys.com/sm/fingers/fing32.gif Bingo! That's the most likely culprit. Weather services put these things up all the time all over the country and all over the world. That where a large (maybe largest?) chunk of the data that NOAA and others use to load into the supercomputers for weather modeling and forecasts. The results from those supercomputers are then used in-part by your local TV channels, newspapers, etc., to produce whether forecasts. Those weather balloons are intentionally highly reflective and easily visible in the daytime. Since they are just gradually floating upward, they usually don't appear to be moving very fast, if at all, when seen from a distance (although you can still see them from miles away).

    You mentioned, "I watched it for several minutes with background points of reference to make sure if it WAS moving, but it was not." But I'm guessing if you were to have continued watching for ~15+ minutes (20 min might be more obvious), you might have seen a noticeable shift in position. (Which would be consistent with a weather balloon.) Also, if the wind direction was moving away from you at the elevation of the balloon, it would cause the balloon to move almost directly away from you -- but from your perspective the balloon would appear to not be moving at all.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
  16. Aug 19, 2010 #15
    Good information. I have never seen one of these until that day. Quite exciting. :)
  17. Aug 24, 2010 #16

    George Jones

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I have seen Venus at noon. It is fairly easy to do when Venus is close enough to the Moon for the Moon to be used as a guide.
  18. Sep 22, 2010 #17
    As an update. . . I was watching the news a few days ago and they were mentioning that some airports send up weather balloons, and that the city I live in . . . does. That's what I saw. It was in the precise direction of the airport.

    Just thought you all would like to know.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook