In early 2012, the brightest planet Venus and the waxing crescent moon are going to be near each other in the evening twilight sky again and again. Next up: tonight’s great pairing of Venus and the moon (January 25, 2012). You can see them again on January 26. And on January 27, the moon will be between Venus and Jupiter.
Last month, on December 26 and 27, people around the world witnessed the Venus and moon pairings. Here are a few of our favorite photos from our talented Facebook friends. You’ll find many more on EarthSky’s Facebook page! Thank you, everybody who posted!
Notice in these photos that we’ve started on December 26 in Italy, and moved westward into the United States, then across the Pacific to the Philippines … then back to Europe (France) on December 27 … and into the U.S. again. All that time, the moon is moving in orbit around Earth. You can see in the photos that its position changes with respect to Venus.
On December 26, as seen from Italy, the moon was slightly below Venus.
As Earth spun during the day on December 26, bringing the moon and Venus into view for people further and further to the west on Earth’s surface, the moon inched up past Venus in the western twilight sky. Why?
The reason is that the apparent motion of the moon on the sky’s dome – over the course of 12 hours or so yesterday – is actually a reflection of the moon’s real motion in orbit around Earth. So as you gaze at these images, you are actually watching the moon move in orbit around Earth.
The three photos below are from December 27. See how much the moon has moved?
Bottom line: There are great pairings of Venus and the moon on January 25 and 26, 2012. On January 27, the moon will be between Venus and Jupiter. Venus and the moon were near each other in the western twilight sky last month, too. This post contains some of our favorite photos from our Facebook page, where our friends are very generous about posting their best.