Daystar!

I saw the planet Venus four times on my walk to and from lunch today! Yes, in broad daylight!

Someone on Slashdot mentioned it was possible last week. I took it seriously because back in high school, I used to watch Venus fade into the brightening sky on winter mornings. Often I could still find it once I arrived at school, since I knew exactly where to look.

I tried unsuccessfully a couple of times over the past week, but today I had a ~20-minute walk mostly facing southward, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I used the Moon as a guide, trying to guess the distance based on how far apart they were last night. As I passed through a building’s shadow, I spotted a stationary white dot in the right area, a bit more than a hand span away from the crescent Moon in the direction of the sun, barely visible next to some wispy clouds. I couldn’t find any sign of a con trail, and it didn’t move, so it clearly wasn’t an airplane, but I was able to look away and back and still see it.

I caught it again from the mall itself, about 15 minutes later after I finished eating and started walking back. This time I was able to peg it down as the distance from one eye’s image of my thumb to the other eye’s image of my little finger. Same place, no sign of movement. Could be a weather balloon, but still…

I kept pausing next to trees or traffic signals to look for it again on the way back, but couldn’t spot it again until I walked into the shadow of another building. Apparently just blocking the sun’s glare wasn’t enough, I had to let my eyes adjust for a few seconds. But it was right there, in clear sky this time, and I was able to walk past a few trees and find it again within seconds.

One final test: as I reached the building where I work, I walked around to the far side to put myself in its shadow. A few seconds to let my eyes adjust, an outstretched hand, and *bam*, there it was!

First sighting: 12:52pm. Last: about 1:35pm.

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