Belt of Venus

January 31, 2003


Provided by: Shannon L. Story
Summary authors & editors: Shannon L. Story

For spectacular views, most people look west as the Sun is setting. But tonight, if the sky is clear, look to the east, and you'll see something more subtle but spectacular as well. It’s called the Belt of Venus. Also known as the Girdle of Venus, it's the pink band layered between the blue sky and the Earth's rising or setting shadow - the deep blue-gray band along the horizon. Earth’s shadow extends millions of miles out in space, which is why we have lunar eclipses. But we don’t have to go to the Moon to see the Earth’s shadow, we can see it right here at sunrise or sunset.

The above photo was taken just before sunrise on January 19 in northern Texas. Three photos were stitched together using a panorama software program. You can see the curvature of the shadow looking from left to right. Note also the nearly full Moon (one day past full).

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