Split Decision ———//——— Venus at Dichotomy

Click on graphic to see it full size/

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Today at 2 pm CDT (17 UT) the planet Venus will have reached what is described as its ‘theoretical dichotomy‘. From our perspective on Earth Venus will appear to be 50% illuminated as the banner graphic at the top of the page shows. Our Moon is on the west side of the Sun, and in its waning gibbous phases, so the Moon, for a couple of days, will resemble the phase appearance of Venus. Tomorrow, the 24th of March the last quarter Moon will most resemble the last-quarter appearing Venus.
   This animated graphic shows how the Earth, Sun, and Venus are arranged just one day after Venus had reached its greatest western elongation. It starts with an ecliptic perspective view of the Earth, Sun, and Venus from which you can see that Venus currently is north of the plane of the ecliptic. As the view switches to an overhead view you can see that the Earth, Sun, and Venus are more or less at at a right angle arrangement following yesterday’s greatest western elongation for Venus.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Venus is currently in the eastern skies above the horizon and shining brightly in the hours before sunrise.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

She’s Back!

venus20-31jan-ani   Did you notice a bright star rising just ahead of the Sun this morning? If so you are looking at the planet Venus as it moves westward away from the Sun in the morning skies. Venus was recently at inferior conjunction, between the Earth and the Sun on 11 January. Over the next two months Venus will continue moving out away from the Sun rising earlier each morning as this animated graphic is showing. The graphic is set at 1-day intervals and runs from the 20th, today, through the 31st of January.

phases-ani20-31jan   Venus moving away from inferior conjunction will undergo phase changes similiar to our Moon. Inferior conjunction is sort of like a new Moon and so as Venus moves westward away from the Sun and increasing the angle between the two Venus will first appear as a relatively large and very thin crescent. Over time Venus’s apparent size will decrease and Venus will wax toward a gibbous phase shape before we lose sight of it later this year as it approaches superior conjunction.
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

The Magnitude of the Situation

7x50binos   This evening the planet Venus will be within about 2 degrees from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. This graphic shows the pair as they would appear through 7×50 binoculars. This part of the sky sets shortly after sunset and the sky is still relatively bright so the ‘viewing window’ for observing them is rather small. However Venus is shining very brightly as at -4.27 so even in somewhat bright skies it should not be hard to see. Antares, on the other hand, is a 1st magnitude star so Venus is about 5 magnitudes brighter than Antares. Each magnitude is approximately 2.51 times different so to go from 1st magnitude to the brighter -4.27 represents a magnitude difference of 5 times or 2.51 x 2.51 x 2.51 x 2.51 x 2.51 difference in magnitudes. This means that Venus is 100 times brighter than Antares, or Antares is 100 times dimmer.

   Click here to read about and see additional pictures of the ISS and Iridium flares.

   
   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.