Venus, Turin, the Alps, and a Very Young Moon

April 01, 2010

20100401 – Thursday - Venus, Turin, the Alps, and a Very Young Moon
Stefano De Rosa 
Summary Author: Stefano De Rosa; Jim Foster

The photo above showing the city lights of Turin, the jagged edge of the Italian Alps, a brilliant Venus, as a well as the unusually demur Moon, was captured on March 16, 2010. Our eye is immediately drawn here to dazzling Venus, now shining at a magnitude of -3.9, about 10 times brighter than the brightest star, Sirius (-1.42). While generally at ease on center stage when the Sun exits the scene, our lone natural satellite seems content to play a minor role on this mid-March evening, choosing to lie low. Nevertheless, its telltale Cheshire grin gives it away, and it somehow manages to steal the show.

It’s easiest to spot the young crescent Moon at sunset near the time of the vernal equinox. On March 15, the Moon was in the new phase at around 10:00 p.m. (local Turin time), so the evening of 16th was the ideal time to try to catch a Moon younger than one day old. Fortunately, the sky was crystal clear shortly after sundown. With the help of a pair of binoculars, I spotted the 21 hour 18 minute old, ultra-slender crescent sliding toward the silhouette of the Alps. Only 0.8 percent of its surface was illuminated!

Photo details: Canon EOS 1000D camera; 0.4 second exposure; f/5.6; 250 mm focal length