Watch for Earth’s shadow and the Belt of Venus

Image at top via Woomera missile range in Australia (used with permission).

The moon phase around October 11, 2019, is about the same as the first few images on this page. Full moon – the Hunter’s Moon for the Northern Hemisphere – comes on October 13. On the evenings of October 12, 13 and 14 – as seen from the whole Earth – the moon will be above the eastern horizon shortly after sunset. You might see the moon ascending in the midst of Earth’s shadow, or near it.

In both the evening and morning sky, try watching for Earth’s shadow, a blue-gray darkness in the direction opposite the sun, 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.

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Nearly full moon in sky with bands of deep mauve, pin, and dark sky blue over ocean.

Nancy Ricigliano from Massapegua, New York, caught the moon rising ahead of Earth’s shadow on October 21, 2018. She wrote: “I went out to see where the moon will be rising for the full Hunter’s Moon on Wednesday. I was able to capture the Earth’s shadow and the Belt of Venus!”

The moon phase shifts throughout the month, and sometimes you won’t find the moon in the night sky. Earth’s shadow, on the other hand, is more reliable. It 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, just as the shadow of any round object is curved. Earth’s shadow extends hundreds of thousands of miles into space, so far that it can touch the moon. Whenever that happens, we see an eclipse of the moon.

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

Tall saguaro cactus and full moon against sky with dark pink and blue bands.

Full moon and Earth’s shadow on the morning of March 2, 2018, via Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona.

Tiny full moon in deep blue sky with dark band above horizon.

Sucheta Wipat caught the Earth’s shadow and Belt of Venus on a cloudy evening in London, August 5, 2017. Yes, you can see it from cities!

Purplish pink sky over blue band above horizon, reflected in calm sea.

Earth’s shadow is the dark blue area above the line of the horizon, in this photo taken in January 2018 by Jörgen Andersson in Sweden.

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.

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Deborah Byrd