Moon to Occult Venus!

Did you know you can see Venus in the daytime? Even though the sun spends its time grabbing all the attention from just about everything else in the sky, if you know where to look, you’re patient, and you don’t mind other people looking at you like you’re the sort of person who spends time staring up at a blank blue sky, you can do it.

The hardest part of this is knowing where to look. Well, you’re in luck! Next week, figure Sunday the 6th through Tuesday the 8th, maybe a day or to on either side, the waning crescent moon will be riding along right alongside Venus in the daytime sky. On Sunday at mid-morning, the moon will be about 10 degrees — the width of your first at arm’s length — ahead of Venus, and on Tuesday it’ll be about the same distance behind. All you need to do is find the moon, hold out your arm, and look for a faint, pale white dot in the sky right along the ecliptic. I’ve mentioned the ecliptic before. It’s the apparent path the sun takes through the sky. The planets generally all lie pretty close to it. It’s not easy, and you’ll have to hunt a little, but it’s pretty nifty if you can see it, no doubt.

But wait, there’s more! It’s true.

Since the moon is on one side of Venus on way day, and on the other side a couple days later, what happens in between? Right, the moon has to pass Venus. This happens all the time, but this time it’s different. In the early-ish part of the day on Monday the 7th, times will be different depending on where you are, the moon will occult Venus, blocking it out, eclipsing it. Have a look at the story I linked below for more info and for times. This only happens sometimes because the moon’s orbit around the earth is near, but doesn’t coincide exactly with the ecliptic. So, usually, things pass each other without being occulted (this is also why there aren’t lunar and solar eclipses every month). This time, though, Venus will vanish behind the moon for a while, and then pop back out the other side an hour or so later.

Of course nothing is really passing each other at all. They just look to be from here on earth. The moon is still a quarter million miles away, and Venus is still over 90 million miles away.

It’s a fun sky-watching game if you can do it. If you can get out of your Monday meetings, give it a shot. Post something in the comments if you’re able to see any of it. I know I’m going to try.

Here’s something from Sky & Telescope, that including times and information about Comet Catalina, which is a comet that’s visible in the morning if you have binoculars.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/…/moon-flys-by-catalina-occ…/

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