This image shows the relative positions of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and the Pleaides star cluster the evening of March 26, 2012, but note that the real Moon will look like a thin crescent tonight. (Credit: Stellarium.org)

A stunning sight awaits you tonight (March 26, 2012): the waxing crescent moon will appear close to Venus.

This lovely pairing will be very easy to spot, as long as your view to the west isn’t blocked by trees or buildings. Just go out after sunset and look west to find the crescent moon. That absurdly bright star-like object just to the right of the Moon is Venus. It is difficult to over-emphasize just how bright Venus appears—in fact, the planet is so bright that it can be seen in the daytime if you know exactly where to look.

Once you spot Venus and the Moon, see if you can find the (much fainter) Pleaides star cluster above them. Also look below Venus and the Moon for Jupiter. Jupiter will look brighter than any star in the night sky, but not as bright as Venus.

Speaking of stunning sights involving Venus, mark your calendar for June 5, 2012, when Venus will transit (cross in front of) the Sun. This will be the last transit of Venus during our lifetimes. Learn more at http://transitofvenus.org/



5 Comments

  1. how is it that jupiter and venus, both planets, radiate so much light ?


    frankD



  2. Thank you for your question. Venus and Jupiter, being planets, don’t create their own light like stars do. But we can see these planets because they reflect the Sun’s light. How bright a planet appears to us depends on several factors, which include how close it is to Earth, how close it is to the Sun, how big the planet is, and how well it reflects sunlight.


    Amy Sayle



  3. .

    is the sun the only star that we see the light reflections of – or do we see other stars’ light radiations off of certain planets ?

    frankD

    .


    frankD



  4. We see other planets in our solar system because they reflect the Sun’s light. The light of stars other than the Sun isn’t a factor in this. All the other stars are very, very far away from any of the planets in our solar system, thus those stars appear much less bright than the Sun. So any effect they’d have on the apparent brightness of planets in our solar system is negligible


    Amy Sayle



  5. thank you amy sayle


    frankD



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