The Moon and Venus Grace the Sky: When and How to See the Brightest Planet in the Solar System
What’s that incredibly bright “star” in the sky every evening? It’s Venus. This week offers skygazers a great opportunity to view the brilliant planet Venus and the moon shining together in the sky. Here’s when and where to see.
On February 27 and 28, 2020, watch for the moon and the super-bright planet Venus to make a close encounter in the sky. The pair will adorn the sky shortly after sunset producing a dazzling naked eye sight. Want to know when the moon and Venus rise and set in your sky? Use the stargazing and sky guide app Star Walk 2 and never miss interesting celestial events.
Venus can be observed in the western evening sky until spring. Day by day, the planet will climb higher in the sky. On Friday evening, February 28, find it below the moon and Uranus that will pair up.
How much do you know about the planet Venus? There are several facts that some skygazers may not know. Let’s see.
Why is Venus so bright?
Whenever you look at it, Venus is the 3rd-brightest object of the night sky, after the Sun and the moon. The planet gleams with a magnitude of -3.8 to -4.6 (the brighter the object, the smaller its magnitude number) and sometimes looks like a bright star even in the morning or daytime sky. The full moon, for comparison, is a magnitude –12.7 and the Sun is –26.8.
Venus is close to Earth, but its proximity is not the only reason the planet is bright. Our sister planet is covered by clouds that are highly reflective due to the presence of sulfuric acid and acidic crystals. Sunlight reflecting from these clouds is the key to the brightness of Venus.
Why is Venus the hottest planet in our Solar system?
Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar system (its average surface temperature is 462°C) because of its atmosphere. The planet’s surface is completely covered by a thick layer of clouds made up of carbon dioxide and other gases. These clouds prevent the heat from the Sun from escaping back into outer space. As a result, Venus' atmosphere absorbs the heat from the Sun and only a little of that heat escapes.
How far is Venus from the Sun?
The average distance of Venus from the Sun is 108,208,930 km (67,237,910 miles). This distance ranges from 107,477,000 km (66,783,112 miles) at perihelion to 108,939,000 km (67,691,556 miles) at aphelion, as Venus travels in an elliptical orbit around the Sun.
Is Venus an inner or an outer planet?
The “inner planets” in the Solar system are so called because they are closer to the Sun. In addition to their proximity, they are smaller, rockier and denser. The outer planets are further away from the Sun, larger and made up mostly of gas. Venus belongs to the group of inner planets along with Mercury, Earth and Mars.
What color is Venus?
For observers from Earth, Venus seems yellowish white. Scientists tried to determine the color of the planet’s surface using various wavelengths but all the wavelengths produced contrasting colors. Photos provided by spacecraft flying over the planet shows the reddish-brown surface (because of the dense carbon dioxide cloud). The exact color of Venus remains unknown.
Keep looking up with Star Walk 2. Wishing you clear skies!