Belt of Venus and Lenticular Clouds

February 07, 2019

Venus_belt_lenticular_cerro_tololo_astroguigeek_guillaume_doyen_EPOD (1)

Photographer: Guillaume Doyen
Summary Authors: Guillaume Doyen; Jim Foster

This picture was taken just a few minutes after sunset from Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. While the temperature was quickly falling, the landscape was simultaneously getting darker and darker. However, in the opposite direction of the setting Sun, where the camera was focused, the sky started to take on these beautiful colors; grading from deep blue at the horizon to bright pink up higher in the sky.

This well-known phenomenon is simply reddened sunlight that's scattered off the uppermost portion of the Earth's shadow. It's called the Belt of Venus and can be observed everywhere, not just from high mountainous areas. At sunset, as the Sun sinks in the west, the Earth's shadow attended by the Belt of Venus rises in the east (the beginning of nightfall).

On the right side of the image, elongated lenticular clouds were forming just over the Cerro Pachon Mountain Range, where the SOAR, Gemini and LSST telescopes are installed. If you look closely you can see these scopes at lower right. The snow-covered mountains made this scene even more memorable. Photo taken on June 13, 2018.

See tomorrow's Earth Science Picture of the Day for more about lenticular clouds.

Photo Details: Canon EOS 700D camera; Sigma 18-35 mm art lens; tripod; f/5; 1/3 second exposure;
ISO 200.