Venus is very bright, but not just because it’s close to Earth compared to many of the other planets. Its also covered in thick clouds that are reflecting lots of the light from the Sun back to Earth. This is why it’s the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon.
Ever since it returned to the evening sky just over a month ago, our “sister planet,” as Venus is often called, has been the centerpiece of the current evening sky.
As Venus travels around the sun inside the Earth’s orbit, it alternates regularly from evening to morning sky and back, spending about 9 1/2 months as an “evening star,” and about the same length of time as a “morning star.”
Some ancient astronomers actually thought they were seeing two different celestial bodies. They named the morning star after Phosphorus, the harbinger of light, and the evening star for Hesperus, the son of Atlas. It was the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras who first realized that Phosphorus and Hesperus were one and the same object.