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It’s that time of year again – at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Planet Venus is working its way into view in the Winter evenings as the evening star, “the first star I see at night”.

I’m reading Dava Sobel‘s book, The Planets. In it, she asks the question: “Who knows how many childhood wishes are squandered on that planet before gathering darkness brings out the stars?”

Winter evenings, especially when there is no moon, the glow of planet Venus can create a unique phenomenon called the Venus Shadow. Reflecting up to 80% of the sun’s light, the planet seems to cast soft, extremely diffused shadows here on earth. The effect can range from romantic to eerie.

It can only be seen by peripheral vision. Direct gazes at where we think the shadow falls always kills the effect. Our eyes seem to be looking for something more concrete, less subtle. Yet the reports of UFO sightings increase when Venus is brightly overhead and the moon is not.

Maybe Venus grants wishes after all!