Q:

What is the bright light in the evening western sky?

A:

Quick Answer

The planet Venus becomes visible in the west just after sunset and is the third brightest natural object in the night sky. Venus is covered by thick clouds that reflect more than 70 percent of the sunlight that reaches the planet.

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Full Answer

The second planet from the sun, Venus, shares many of the same physical characteristics as Earth. When viewed from Earth, Venus is typically visible for only a few hours either just after sunset or before sunrise. Venus is the brightest planet in the solar system, and the sun and moon are the only objects in the night's sky able to outshine Venus. Venus is much closer to the sun than Earth and appears just above the horizon in the western sky at sunset and in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

Venus remains close to the horizon due to its close proximity to the sun. Venus is most easily observed during an elongation, an event that occurs when the planet is in a position within its orbit that is at tangent to the view from Earth. While Venus is often clearly visible to the naked eye and is bright enough to cast shadows, planetary features can only be made out with the aid of a telescope or other viewing aid.

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