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Venus After Sunset

Venus shines with the Moon in Night Skies
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Welcome to Utah Skies. This past month, we’ve been treated with a spectacular evening show as the bright planet Venus has dominated the western skies after sunset.

Venus is often referred to as the Earth’s twin sister. Both planets are about the same size. The Earth is only 400 miles larger than Venus.

As Venus travels around the sun inside the earth’s orbit, it spends about nine months as the evening star and nine months as the morning star. This spring Venus is the evening star. As it orbits the sun, Venus shows phases like the moon. When Venus is on the opposite side of the sun, from the earth it appears nearly full and small because it’s farther away. It shows a quarter phase at maximum elongation. As Venus nears the earth it appears larger but looks like a thin crescent or nearly new phase. Tonight, in telescope, Venus’s face is about two-thirds lit. However, it shines at magnitude -4.3, about as bright as it gets because its disc is larger and the planet is closer to the earth.

Tonight and tomorrow Venus will be joined by the young moon – just two to three days past new moon. The moon and Venus give a spectacular show over the next few nights from sunset to about 9:30 PM. Don’t miss it!

For the Cache Valley Astronomical Society, I’m Tom Westre. Clear Skies!