Sunday, September 5, 2010

The crescent of Venus

Each evening, Venus drops a little closer to the horizon as it approaches the sun. By the end of October, Venus will be positioned between the Earth and the sun so that it appears directly next to the sun in our daytime sky.

Look at this bright planet this evening in the southwest right after sunset. Through a very steadily held pair of binoculars, a small crescent shape can be discerned. If the planet’s glare is overpowering, wear sunglasses. During the next few weeks, while Venus remains visible, its crescent shape will become thinner and larger.

To the right of Venus, Mars can be seen passing just north of Spica over the next few evenings. If the atmosphere isn’t very clear, binoculars will help greatly in seeing this event.

Such is our view from Earth ...