Look to the Western Sky after Sunset

One evening last week I looked to the west and saw a bright light above the horizon. I couldn’t tell whether it was moving or not, and wondered: was it an airplane, or Venus?

I couldn’t remember whether Venus was visible in the evening or morning (or at all) right now. It was roughly in the direction of an airport, so it could easily have been a helicopter or an airplane traveling at an angle roughly in line with my line of sight. By the time I got home, buildings and trees blocked the horizon, so I didn’t think much more of it.

I’m in California. Interestingly enough, thousands of miles away in Ohio, people have been seeing a bright light in the west every night for the past week and making UFO reports.

Last night I decided to see how early I could spot Venus, and caught it fairly high in the sky just after sunset. It was hard to see without really looking for it because the sky was still light, but it became a lot easier as the sky darkened. Not surprisingly, as it set and brightened in the dimming sky, it passed through roughly the area I remembered seeing the unidentified light last week. Mystery solved.

I don’t understand why, in a world full of airplanes, helicopters and the occasional blimp — not to mention a world where we see stars and planets every night (barring clouds and light pollution) — people jump past these mundane explanations when they see a light in the night sky and decide it must be an alien spacecraft.

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4 thoughts on “Look to the Western Sky after Sunset

  1. lenny

    looking at low western sky march 30 2010 at 1115 pm from turtle bay in hawaai i see three lights red blue and pink/white blinking. i thought it was a plane at first and watched it for 20 minutes it did not move. maybe it is the earth station or a combination of planets in close array. i just dont know. i just did a google search and am posting this to get help…other people must see this? what is it? contact me at moneymgr1@aol.com thanks

    Reply
    1. Kelson Post author

      Venus and Mercury are close together right now, according to Sky and Telescope. There’s a couple of diagrams on that page showing roughly how they look and where to find them. You might have seen them along with a nearby star, or maybe a light on a boat off in the distance.

      Reply
  2. Ken suszek

    I have been watching this object for the past 4 years at this time of year it is in the western sky just above the herizon at around 8:00pm. It is not a planet for sure because planet don’t flicker, I believe it is a star going supernova in the Hercules constellation. I just don’t know and it’s driving me nuts. I have been searching online for any creditable information and it is all just mumble jumble. Does anyone have any good information? It’s not Venus because right now Venus is below the horizon. I live in buffalo,NY if that helps anyone vantage point.

    Reply
    1. Kelson Post author

      It’s probably Arcturus. It’s a very bright star, and it’s above the western horizon after sunset this time of year.

      Also, planets do twinkle sometimes, so it’s not a hard and fast rule.

      Reply

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