Venus, the Crescent Moon and Lighthouse

January 26, 2010

20100126 – Tuesday - Venus, the Crescent Moon and Lighthouse

Photographer: Brenda Short
Summary Author: Brenda Short; Jim Foster

This lovely, early morning seaside scene was captured from East Marion, Long Island, New York on May 20, 2009. Looking toward the east, it shows the waning crescent Moon, Venus (to the lower left of the Moon), and the Orient Point Lighthouse on the distant horizon.

Unlike the moon, Venus is waxing when in the morning sky. In this case it’s a waxing crescent. When it reaches greatest elongation (furthest from the Sun from our perspective), it’s about half illuminated. At the end of May last year, Venus was just approaching greatest elongation. However, Venus is actually brighter near inferior conjunction, in the crescent phase. At that time it is much closer to Earth and 25 percent of its surface is illuminated. The phases of Venus can be easily detected through a small backyard telescope.

The Orient Point Lighthouse has been in continuous operation since 1899, except for a 3-year period in the early 1970s when it was completely renovated. In 2000, solar panels and batteries were introduced to dispense with the light's reliance on a submarine power cable. It’s not possible to reach this handsome lighthouse by land, and it is not open to the public.

Orient Point Lighthouse coordinates: 41.163339, -72.223639