How Sweet It Is! Venus And Moon Delicious At Dawn

Venus and the crescent moon pair up in the southeastern sky tomorrow morning Feb. 26. This map shows the view about 45 minutes before sunrise. Stellarium

Feel like starting your day under the influence … of the cosmos? If you’re up early tomorrow, take a look to the southeast before sunrise. You’ll be greeted by the beautiful sight of Venus and the crescent moon paired up against dawn’s pink glow.

For some the duo will gleam over a snowy landscape, for others it could be a tropical ocean. But if you live in West Africa, the timing and location are just right for the moon to occult or cover Venus.

Venus emerging from the dim, Earth-illuminated portion of the moon as seen from Libreville, Gabon tomorrow morning at dawn. Stellarium

The planet will disappear along the moon’s bright limb and then reappear about an hour later along the dark, earth-lit portion. The appearance of the brilliant planet poking out from behind the dark moon will make a striking sight at dawn.

Observers there may even attempt to see the mysterious Ashen Light, a controversial glow in Venus’ dark hemisphere that may or may not be real. The best time to try for it – again, if you happen to be in equatorial Africa – is when the bright Venusian crescent is still hidden by the moon with its dark hemisphere poking over the edge.

On the easier and less controversial side, the moon will make Venus incredibly easy to spot in daylight.

For the Americas, Venus and the moon will have put 4 degrees (8 moon diameters) of sky between them by the time they rise. Still, if you pay attention to where Venus is in relation to the moon when it’s easy to spot before sunrise, you might succeed in finding the planet in the daytime too. Good luck!

7 Responses

  1. Claudia

    Can you please explain how day and night works in Uranus?
    -Length of day?
    -Length of night?
    -Why its like that?
    Thank you! 🙂

    1. astrobob

      Claudia / Kara,
      Uranus rotates once every 17 hours 14 minutes – that’s the length of its day just as Earth’s day is 24 hours because that’s how long it takes Earth to make one spin. Length of day and night varies continuously on both planets depending on latitude and season. For instance, days are shorter in the northern U.S. during the winter than near the equator. Days and nights are both 12 hours long everywhere at the equinoxes. Come summer, days in the U.S. are much longer than at the equator and nights much shorter.
      Uranus takes 84 years to go around the sun once AND it rotates on its side. That means that its northern hemisphere experiences continuous daylight for 21 years during the Uranian summer, followed by “normal” days and nights for 21 years through the fall, followed by 21 years of continuous night during winter, and finally 21 years of “normal” days and nights during spring.
      The only way to answer your question specifically – whether for the Earth or Uranus – is to pick a particular latitude and time of year on either planet.

      1. RC

        I’m glad you told the student the other day to do the research his/herself. It would have been easy to just give an answer, but you made the right call.

        And thanks for the explanation to those of us who are loyal readers!

  2. Louise Gartzke

    I was delighted to see your explanation in this mornings online section of the Duluth newspaper of what was shining brightly next to the moon when I awoke this a.m.. It was shining beautifully down here in Florida and was very curious to know what it was. Thanks from a former Duluthian.

    1. astrobob

      Hi Louise,
      Hello from snow-bound Duluth. I’m glad you got to see it. We tried here but it was cloudy, so thanks for sharing the sight.

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