Crescent Venus

March 17, 2017

Venus (4)

Photographer: Meire Ruiz
Summary AuthorsMeire Ruiz; Jim Foster

Shown above is a montage of the path of Venus during a brief time lapse (2 minutes), as observed on February 13, 2017, from Santos, Brazil. Approximately 30 percent of our sister planet, some 41,776,649 miles distant (67,233,000 km), was illuminated at the time. The change in brightness you see is due to the presence of thin clouds over Santos. Unlike the visible planets that lie further away from the Sun (Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), Mercury and Venus, when they're in the crescent phase, appear brightest to Earthlings. When these two planets are closest to us, directly in-between the Earth and the Sun (new phase), they can't be detected because the Sun is too bright. But when they're in the full phase, they're on the other side of the Sun from us and so, much further away with a much smaller apparent diameter.

Venus thus appears brighter as it gets thinner. It'll be very bright tonight (magnitude -4.7) when it's low in the western sky and only about 3 percent of its surface is lit. Use binoculars to see its crescent shape -- Mercury can be seen below and slightly to the left of Venus.

Photo Details: Canon SX40 HS camera; 1/100 sec. exposure; ISO 10; f/5.8; Zoom 140x.