Sunday, March 25, 2012

Venus/Jupiter/Crescent Moon at Sunset

Last month, the planets Venus and Jupiter and the crescent Moon aligned beautifully for evening sky watchers. And we get another beautiful show tonight and tomorrow. On the evenings of March 25th and 26th, the three will form a bright triangle in the western sky at sunset.

Venus shines at -4.34 magnitude and Jupiter at a slightly-dimmer -1.86 magnitude. The crescent Moon outshines them both, at about -7 magnitude, and will grow brighter over the two evenings as the phase waxesgrows to cover more of the lunar surface.

The above image depicts the planets Venus (blue and white symbol at top) and Jupiter (gold symbol in the middle) and the crescent Moon (crescent symbol) in the western horizon around sunset on March 25th. Please note that in the actual sky the symbolic Moon phase would be rotated one quarter clockwise, so the lit portion faces the horizon. The red background in the image indicates that the sky is in twilight, transitioning from full daylight to full darkness. The outlines of the surrounding constellations are marked and labeled. They are, clockwise from the top, Aries, Triangulum, Pisces, and Cetus. (The image was produced using Your Sky software by John Walker, available online at www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/ )

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