The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

The Morning and Evening Star

D’oh!  This snuck up on me and I almost forgot to blog it.  Today and the next couple of days give sharp eyed observers a rare chance to see Venus as the evening star and the morning star on the same day!  Venus is just about to pass between the Earth and the Sun.  However, it does not pass directly between the Earth and the Sun, but rather north of the Sun by almost 8 degrees.  This separation is about as big as it gets when Venus passe between the Earth and the (also called inferiof cojnunction) which makes this tricky observation possible.  HINT: Venus will be slighlty to the North of the Sun (right at sunset, left at sunrise if you are in the northern hemisphere).

Simply look west RIGHT after sunset for Venus.  Do the same thing RIGHT befor sunsrise.  When I say right before or right after, I am talking about five minutes, 10 tops.  You need a good clear horizon to see this.  If you spot Venus, train binoculars on it.  You will see a VERY thin cresent…it is really cool!

I want to warn you: DO NOT USE BINOCULARS IF THE SUN IS ABOVE THE HORIZON.  Venus is very close to the Sun and you don’t want to risk looking at the Sun with binoculars.

This is one of those tricky visual observations.  It takes no special equipment…just patience and a sharp eye…the kind I really love to try.

You can only do this once every 8 years, so do it now or wait until 2017!

You can hear more about this on today’s episode of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast.

March 23, 2009 - Posted by | Observing

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