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The Urban Astronomer

Brilliant Venus

26 Jan 2009, 06:31 UTC
Brilliant Venus
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Venus is a remarkable object in the evening sky. It has been steadily brightening throughout January and will continue through February as it climbs high in the evening sky. Winter skies in San Francisco can yield some of the best viewing. I went out for a look at the western sky at Ocean Beach tonight and although it was cold and breezy, the week ahead is forecast to bring sunny days and crisp, clear nights. With Venus approaching its maximum brightness it is shimmering in the west, dominating the sky and making all other celestial objects pale by comparison. That is, until the Moon shows up!This week brings the monthly dance of planets and Moon. Find a good western horizon to enjoy the monthly spectacle of the young crescent Moon climbing higher each night. The Moon takes just over 29 days to orbit the earth so from one day to the next it moves approximately 12 degrees against the backdrop of stars. Each evening you can see the change in the Moon's position and Venus serves as a helpful reference point in the sky especially from Thursday 29th to Friday 30th. Dress warmly and enjoy!

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