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Can You See Planets Or Stars In The Daytime With A Telescope?

You’ve probably seen the ‘evening star’ or the ‘morning star’. This is Venus. But what else is possible regarding the planets or stars in the daytime? I did some research and it might surprise you to know what can be seen in the daytime sky. But seeing them is not easy. There’s a bunch of celestial objects and I cover these along with some tips for viewing stars during the day.

Things we see in the sky at daytime: The list of possibles to see in the daytime sky include Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, **exploding stars** [Source: EarthSky], Sirius, Canopus, Vega, Procyon, Altair, and Arcturus.

Are stars out during the day…

Are stars there during the day? Yes, stars are there, whether it’s daytime or nighttime on Earth. The thing is you’re not likely to see them during the day. You’ll need exceptional conditions to see Sirius and the other bright stars during the day. Read on to find out more…

You’re more likely to see stars in the day, when there’s a solar eclipse.

Can we see stars during day time with our naked eyes?

You can easily see the evening or morning star, which is Venus. It’s not really a star, it’s a planet.

Seeing a Bright star in daytime

The following video shows a bright object and what you could imagine to be a bright star in the daytime. It was thought to be Vega, the brightest star of constellation Lyra and 5th brightest star in the sky.

The truth be known you’re not likely to see a star during the daytime. It’s a rare to no chance at all that you’d be seeing Vega with the naked eye during daylight hours. Though, cloudy days can make it easier to spot planets, with clouds blocking some of the sunlight.

One gauge indicating this about the stars seen with the naked eye, is the logarithmic system of star brightness. I’ve put together a chart of magnitudes to help with the likely candidates and you’ll see that Vega has a magnitude of +0.03, requiring a telescope to detect during the day. Another way to validate is to check the object’s celestial coordinates for your observation point and date and time.

Why can’t we see stars in the daytime? You can’t see stars in the daytime with the naked eye because the light emitted by the Sun is very bright and scatters in our atmosphere, creating a sea of blue, and the brightness of the stars is lost in this blueness. There are some you can see using a telescope with filters.

Can you see stars during the day with a telescope?

Yes, it’s possible to see the brightest stars in the daytime with a telescope. These are the stars with a zero, first, and, at a stretch, second magnitude stars if you have a large enough aperture.

Second magnitude stars are those with a magnitude between 1.5 and 2.5.

If you’re looking to see stars in the daytime with a telescope, Sirius, Arcturus, Vega, Betelgeuse, Antares, Canopus, Procyon, and Altair are candidates to check outArcturus, Betelgeuse, and Antares are the giants depicted in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram in my article on the different star types.

It’s at least possible to see the likes of Sirius, Arcturus, and Vega with a telescope when there is low atmospheric turbulence and when they are located above the horizon, using a filter. I cover the filter types in the tips section below.

Can you see planets during the day?

There are some planets you can see during the day. Venus you’ll easily see with the naked eye for a certain part of the year around sunrise and sunset while there’s still light. And it’s possible to see Jupiter and Mars with the naked eye at rare times.

Conditions that affect sighting of stars in the daytime include atmospheric turbulence, haze, cloud cover, and air pollution. Tree cover, city buildings, and the like are others.

Viewing planets during the day with a telescope

You can see some planets during the daytime with a telescope, if you know when and where to look (and have the right gear and telescope for viewing planets) and the conditions are right.

Planet, Saturn with telescope during the day

To support this, check out this photo posted by a Reddit user…

Amazing, huh! It just goes to show how there is more to see in the sky than you’d expect in the daytime.

Regarding the occasions for planets…

  • Venus (more so) but also Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn can be visible in the daytime at certain times. This will vary depending on their location relative to Earth and their orbit around the Sun. The days that provide the best opportunity for viewing these planets with our naked eye is when they’re the closest to Earth in their orbit around the Sun. Other times will make them nearly impossible to view, even with a telescopic device.
  • With the naked eye, at certain times of the year, you will easily see Venus, low in the sky — in the hour after sunset or before sunrise.

Magnitudes of Stars / Planets visible during the daytime

Here is a list of some of the brightest night sky objects with associated magnitudes visible to the naked eye and through a telescope.

NameConstellationVisible During Daytime?Magnitude*
SunYes. SOLAR FILTER important to avoid injury to naked eye and with telescope.−26.74
VenusYes, possible with naked eye−4.92
JupiterYes, possible with naked eye-2.94
MarsYes, possible with naked eye-2.94
MercuryYes, borderline with naked eye-2.48
SiriusCanis MajorYes, with telescope-1.44
CanopusCarinaYes, with telescope-0.62
SaturnYes, with telescope-0.55
ArcturusBoötesYes, with telescope-0.05
Alpha CentauriCentaurusYes, with telescope-0.01
VegaLyraYes, with telescope+0.03
CapellaAurigaYes, with telescope+0.08
RigelOrionYes, with telescope+0.18
ProcyonCanis MinorYes, with telescope+0.40
BetelgeuseOrionYes, with telescope+0.45
AltairAquilaYes, with telescope+0.76
*Stellar brightness – as it appears in the night sky from Earth [Source: MSU]. Max is given for names in purple.

The difficult part is finding these objects in a sea of blue (the scattered light in our atmosphere from sunlight). Filters can help with this — see below. Knowing the constellation will help, but you’ll need more help in a way of locating them, e.g. using accurate setting circles or apps.

Tips for viewing stars during the day

Location: The difficult part is knowing where to look! The stars are still there during the day. It’s just that the stars and planets are too bright in the sky for us to notice them. They blend into the background of a clear blue sky.

  • You can use apps on your phone or software programs like Stellarium (Windows) which will allow you to locate certain constellations and see the stars that are located in the overhead sky on that particular date/time!
  • You can refer to sky maps and paper charts
  • Use a GoTo or computerized telescope

Filters: A cheap red screw-in eyepiece filter will counter the blueness of the sky (Orion sells a filter set, red, yellow, green and blue, for a good price). Moving upmarket, some recommended ones are long-pass filters that block wavelengths shorter than a particular frequency, for example, RG665, RG720, and RG830, where the number indicates that cutoff wavelength.

Important: when making observations of or near the Sun, make sure you have the right solar filter, which I cover in this article.

Interference: Finding a high spot or an open area is a good idea to avoid interference from tree cover and city buildings. I cover others in my tips for stargazing in the city.

You may know of the legend that stars can be seen during the daytime with the naked eye from the bottom of a deep dark shaft. I cover this in the FAQs below.

Exploding stars

Don’t hold your breathe for seeing an exploding star (supernova). The last one seen in the daytime sky was over 400 years ago, in 1572.

The best candidate for the next one is Betelgeuse. But no one knows when this red supergiant will become a supernova. It could be now or up to a millions years from now.

It’ll stand out, however, given it’s expected visible magnitude of −12.40 as a Supernova.2 See magnitude of stars and planets table — this is half the brightness of our Sun and over twice that of Venus.

Summing it up

Planets can be easier to spot than stars! This is because they are closer to Earth.

Stars that are possible to see during the day but with a telescope include Sirius, Canopus, Vega, Procyon, Altair, and Arcturus.

Which planet or star in the daytime is visible to naked eye

With the right conditions, stars and planets with an apparent magnitude of −2.5 or above, should be visible with the naked eye when the Sun is below 10º above the horizon.

Venus is about -2.9 to -5,  Jupiter -1.7 to -2.9, and Sirius is about -1.42 [Source: MSU].

FAQs

Information

  1. Dickinson NightWatch
  2. Dolan, Michelle M.; Mathews, Grant J.; Lam, Doan Duc; Lan, Nguyen Quynh; Herczeg, Gregory J.; Dearborn, David S. P. (2017). “Evolutionary Tracks for Betelgeuse“. The Astrophysical Journal819 (1): 7.
  3. Mallama, A.; Hilton, J.L. (2018). “Computing Apparent Planetary Magnitudes for The Astronomical Almanac”. Astronomy and Computing25: 10–24.