The brightest and second-brightest luminaries of nighttime – the moon and the planet Venus, respectively – will be putting on quite a show in the early morning hours on January 28 and 29, 2014. No matter where you live worldwide, get up some 90 to 60 minutes before sunrise. Look in the direction of the coming sunrise to observe the moon and Venus.
If your sky is clear, there is no way to overlook Venus, the most brilliant of planets, in the predawn and/or dawn sky. Look first for the thin waning crescent moon, and then seek for the exceptionally bright star-like object in close vicinity to the moon. Despite their brightness as seen from Earth, neither moon nor Venus produce any light of their own. They shine with reflected sunlight.
What’s more, both the moon and Venus show the whole range of phases in Earth’s sky. If you observe Venus in a telescope at dawn tomorrow (January 28), you’ll see that the crescent phase of Venus very much resembles that of tomorrow’s waning crescent moon.
Yet, while the moon is waning toward the new phase (and the second new moon for January), the crescent Venus is waxing toward full as seen from Earth. In fact, the moon will turn new on January 30, to usher in the second supermoon of January 2014. At new moon, the moon will leave the morning sky and pass into the evening sky.
Venus, on the other hand, won’t reach full phase until October 25, 2014. At this time, Venus will transition out of the morning sky and into Earth’s evening sky.
Bottom line: Be sure to catch the beautiful pairing of the moon and Venus before sunrise on January 28 and 29, 2014. You’ll find them in the sunrise direction, before dawn. Although the moon will leave the morning sky a few days from now, Venus will remain the dazzling morning “star” until October 2014.