You know Venus is the brightest object in the west after sunset. Yes? It’s the sky’s brightest object, with the exception of the sun and moon. And you know that Venus and the sky’s second-brightest planet, Jupiter, are drawing closer in the west after sunset? If not, look here for a chart showing them tonight. But did you know that, if you looked at Venus through a telescope now, you’d see it in a crescent phase? Efraín Morales of the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe captured this telescopic view of a crescent Venus on June 11, 2015.
Venus is a crescent now as seen from Earth because it’s now about to gain a lap on Earth in the never-ending race of the planets. Venus will be most nearly between the sun and Earth on August 15. No spectacular transit of Venus this time; it’ll be passing 8 degrees south of the sun as viewed in Earth’s sky.
But there’s something spectacular you can see this week! Beginning tonight – and through this weekend you might catch the very thin crescent moon below Venus and Jupiter in the west after sunset. Here’s a collection of charts showing the moon and planets tonight and in the weeks to come.
Bottom line: Venus is now the very bright object in the west after sunset. If you looked at it through a telescope, you’d see it in a crescent phase. Photo of crescent Venus on June 11, 2015, by Efraín Morales of the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.