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Venus´ in the early morning sky

 
Anonymous Coward
06/05/2005 07:35 PM
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Venus´ in the early morning sky
Sunday, June 05, 2005
BY DAVID L. Debruyn
SPECIAL TO THE PRESS


It hovers low over the treetops toward the northwest in the fading evening twilight. Slowly, it drifts lower and lower into the red haze along the horizon before disappearing from sight.

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No, it is not a U.F.O., a low-flying airplane or any human-made object. It is merely the planet Venus, peeking back after a year´s absence.

The planet second closest to the sun can be elusive at times and literally dominate the early evening or predawn skies at others. The last time Venus was prominent in our evening sky was in May 2004. At that time, it was near its greatest possible brilliance -- bright enough to cast a weak shadow.

Then, it dove into the twilight as its orbit carried it to a point exactly between the earth and sun. It crossed the face of the sun on June 8, 2004, producing a historic transit -- the first such event in 122 years. Because these rare events come in groups of two, separated by eight years, the next one will be in 2012.

After last year´s transit, Venus´ moved to the opposite side of the sun, which is where it was positioned in spring 2004. The brightest of the planets became a spectacular object in the predawn sky from mid-summer through early winter. Later in the season, as Venus´ orbit carried it behind the sun, the planet became increasingly difficult, then impossible to see in the solar glare. From mid-February through early May of this year, it essentially was lost from view.

Creeping slowly from the solar glare during the past month, Venus is a prominent star in the northwest. It hovers in the twilight about 30 to 45 minutes, until the earth´s rotation carries it out of sight below the horizon.

During the next month, as Venus migrates higher into the western sky, it will become more prominent. It also will set later after the sun, remaining visible for about an hour after the sky darkens. These circumstances will continue the rest of the year.

The thin crescent moon will be directly above Venus Wednesday evening. Then, on Thursday, look for the moon a little higher in the western sky, where it will shine above and to the right of Saturn. The ringed planet´s long sojourn in the evening sky is coming to an end. Saturn looks like a bright yellowish star in the western sky as darkness falls.

A third planet visible tonight is well up in the southern sky as darkness falls. It is unmistakable Jupiter, second in brightness only to Venus. Jupiter stands out prominently against a background of the other stars, remaining visible until well after midnight in late spring and early summer.

Venus, Saturn, and the elusive planet Mercury will play an interesting game of cat and mouse during the last week in June. Mercury, orbiting closer to the sun than any other planet, peeks out from the solar glare only for brief periods. One of those times will be between June 21 and 30 when the much dimmer Mercury will hover very close to Venus, which will be low in the northwestern sky.

Saturn will also drift into the picture, forming a compact triangle with Venus and Mercury from the June 24 to 27.

Mercury and Venus will seem to nearly touch on June 27 with the light of the dimmer planet lost to the naked eye because of Venus´ brilliance. Binoculars will enhance the view of the unusually tight pairing of these two planets.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:14 AM
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Re: Venus´ in the early morning sky
book
idol harobed
12/08/2005 10:14 AM
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Re: Venus´ in the early morning sky
"Saturn will also drift into the picture, forming a compact triangle with Venus and Mercury from the June 24 to 27."

Finally, an astronomical event during a weekend.

Thanks for sharing.

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