Venus, west after sunset

Venus isn’t easy to see now in the sunset direction, shortly after the sun goes down. But keep watching! One evening soon, you’ll spot it.

View larger. | Venus as captured on December 2, 2014 by Karoline Mrazek and Erwin Matys of Project Nightflight in Spain.

View larger. | Venus over the Atlantic Ocean via Project Nightflight. Used with permission.

Venus, the brightest of all planets, sits close to the glare of sunset in December, 2014, and it’ll take a deliberate effort to see this world at evening dusk. That’s one reason the photo above – by Karoline Mrazek and Erwin Matys of Austria’s Project Nightflight – is so wonderful. These astrophotographers captured Venus on December 2, 2014 above an Atlantic Ocean sunset while visiting the Spanish Canary Islands.

In early December, at mid-northern latitudes like those in the United States, Venus is setting only about 30 minutes after sunset. It’ll be setting much farther behind the sun – about 75 minutes after sunset – by New Year’s.

Be sure to watch the skies on December 22, December 23 and December 24, when the waxing crescent moon will be back in the evening sky, moving up first Venus and then Mars in the western twilight. Find an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset, and bring along binoculars, if you have them, to enhance the view.

Thank you, Karoline Mrazek and Erwin Matys of Project Nightflight!

Deborah Byrd