The moon and the dazzling planet Venus remain the big attraction in the eastern predawn/dawn sky on the morning of April 26. If you’re blessed with clear skies and an unobstructed eastern horizon, you can’t miss the glorious morning couple. The moon and Venus rank as the second-brightest and third-brightest celestial bodies, respectively, after the sun.
With or without binoculars, it should be easy to spot earthshine on the nighttime side of the waning crescent moon. It’ll look like a dull glow on the lunar nightside. Earthshine is sunlight reflected from Earth and back to the moon.
By the way, the dark or night side of the moon is created by moon’s own shadow, just as the nighttime side of Earth is immersed in the Earth’s own shadow.
The terminator – the shadow line dividing the lunar day from the lunar night – shows you where it’s sunset on the waning moon. The illuminated portion of the moon’s disk is now shrinking, and the new moon will be forthcoming on April 29. From Australia, in the afternoon hours of April 29, the new moon will partially block out the solar disk, to stage a partial eclipse of the sun.
Like the moon, Venus goes through the whole range of phases, but you need a telescope to see them. Whenever you see Venus in the morning sky, Venus’ phase is always waxing (increasing), and moreover, when Venus in the morning sky, it is always moving away from Earth. At present, Venus’ disk is about 65% illuminated in sunlight. A month from now, it’ll be about 75% illuminated. Finally, a full Venus will pass behind the sun, as seen from Earth, on October 25, 2014, to transition from the morning sky to evening sky.
Bottom line: Before sunrise on April 26, 2014, the waning crescent moon and the waxing gibbous Venus brighten up the predawn and dawn sky. Look east.