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Originally posted by AaronWilson
reply to post by lacrimaererum
When we see the planets shining, you are seeing the sunlight from our star reflecting back at us.
Like Mercury, Venus is between Earth and the Sun, so we see it go through phases, like the Moon, as the Sun hits it from different angles. But even though we only see part of Venus, it is still the brightest object in the night sky, except for the Moon, with an apparent magnitude of -4.4, because it is so close to us, and its cloud cover so highly reflective. Venus only appears in the morning, and the evening, but it does stray a little farther from the Sun than Mercury, hanging around in the morning sky for an hour or two before sunrise as the proverbial morning star, or setting an hour or two after the Sun, entertaining us as the famous evening star.
There's always an exception though. In very turbulent air, even planets can appear to twinkle. The air is moving so rapidly and so randomly that even something as large as a planet can twinkle.