Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

271,635 subscribers and counting ...

See Earth’s shadow and Belt of Venus

In both the evening and morning sky, try watching for Earth’s shadow. Earth’s shadow is a deep blue-grey, darker than the twilight sky. The pink band above the shadow – in the east after sunset, or west before dawn – is called the Belt of Venus.

We show a lovely photo of the Earth’s shadow on the chart at the top of this post (image from Woomera missile range in Australia. Used with permission). The image shows more or less the same moon phase that you’ll see on the night of August 5. It’ll be a waxing gibbous moon that’ll be visible in the east after sunset on this evening.

Meanwhile, Earth’s shadow can be seen any clear evening, ascending in the eastern sky at the same rate that the sun sets below the western horizon.

The shadow of the Earth is big. You might have to turn your head to see the whole thing. And the shadow is curved, in just the same way that the whole Earth is curved. Earth’s shadow extends hundreds of thousands of miles into space, so far that it can touch the moon. Whenever that happens, there’s an eclipse of the moon, like the partial lunar eclipse coming up in the world’s Eastern Hemisphere on the night of August 7-8, 2017.

Partial lunar eclipse on August 7-8

Total eclipse of sun: August 21, 2017

Sucheta Wipat caught the Earth’s shadow and Belt of Venus on a cloudy evening in London, August 5, 2017.

Bottom line: Check out Earth’s shadow – in the east after sunset or in the west before sunrise – next time you have a clear sky. I often see it while out on the streets of my town as the sun is setting. The pink coloration above the shadow is called the Belt of Venus.

Read more and see more photos: When can you see Earth’s shadow?

Enjoying EarthSky so far? Sign up for our free daily newsletter today!

Deborah Byrd

MORE ARTICLES