Today's Image

Crescent moon, crescent Venus

Crescent moon crescent Venus.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Composite image by Meiying Lee in Taiwan. Images are from January 4, 2022. See Meiying’s video here.

At EarthSky Community Photos, we’ve had multiple images of the crescent Venus over the past several days, as the planet nears its inferior conjunction on January 8-9, 2022 (when it will pass between us and the sun). This image is from last night, from Meiying Lee in Taiwan. She wrote:

Today’s crescent moon is illuminated only by 3.8%, and Venus, which is very close to the sun, is illuminated only 1.0%. Both are very thin and crescent-shaped; especially the small crescent of Venus in the long lens is very beautiful.

Thank you, Meiying! Bruce McClure told us he saw Venus as a crescent with his eye alone:

… I clearly saw Venus as a crescent with the eye alone at evening dusk on January 3. Although I’ve often seen the crescent through binoculars, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a perfect and obvious Venusian crescent with the unaided eye. I’m quite excited about it, and wonder if any ancient or prehistoric sky watchers had ever seen Venus as a crescent.

Interesting thought! Thank you, Bruce! By the way, Bruce also mentioned that:

According to the ephemeris for Venus at Fred Espenak’s, Venus is over one minute (60 seconds) in diameter and less than 2% illuminated, presenting an optimal time for catching the crescent with no optical aid.

If you want to see the crescent Venus for yourself, give it a try. But be careful. Never look at the sun directly, especially with optical aid. Venus will be surprisingly bright for being so near the sunset glare. It’ll be visible only briefly, in the west, shortly after the sun goes down. On the evening of January 5, 2022, the waxing moon will be pointing toward Venus:

The planets Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus in a diagonal line top to bottom, with three moons in slightly larger crescent phases on left side climbing beside them.
Bright Venus will be exceedingly near the sunset glare. So, will you see it? It’ll be hard. And Mercury, too, will be difficult to see. But on January 4 and 5, if your sky is clear, you should easily see the young moon near Saturn and Jupiter. Chart by John Jardine Goss.

Bottom line: An image, and some thoughts, about the crescent moon and crescent Venus.

January 5, 2022
Today's Image

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