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That bright light in the sky is Venus

Since you asked

When we sit on our deck at night, we cannot help but notice the bright star (planet?) just above the west horizon. What is it, and why is it so bright this time of year?

' Bob C., Medford

We noticed that, too, Bob. It's Venus.

According to Dave Bloomsness, avid skywatcher and former president of the Southern Oregon Skywatchers, the planet, which is between us and the sun, has high reflectivity. While it should be around in the evening sky for a few months still, it's pretty high up and visible right now. Sometimes in its cycle it's visible to earthlings in the morning, but it never gets much higher than it is right now.

You know, Bob, the Russians have sent probes to Venus, but the surface is so hot that the probes burn up in minutes, Dave says. Also, there's oodles of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere, so, for now, we'll just keep watching from our decks.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to