Venus and Moon, March 21 & 22, 2015

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Brilliant Venus and the moon appeared near each other during the past two evenings.  On March 21, the crescent moon appeared about 12 degrees below the planet.  Notice that the night portion of the moon is illuminated.  Sunlight reflected from our planet gently illuminated the lunar night.  From the moon, Earth appeared nearly full.  In the same way the full moon illuminates terrestrial features when it is full, our planet illuminates the night portion of the moon when the moon appears near the crescent phases.  This effect is known as “Earthshine.”

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On the next evening the moon appeared about 4 degrees to the left of Venus.  In the overexposed image, notice the Earthshine.

More information about the evening appearance of Venus:

Venus as an Evening Star

Venus and Jupiter, March 17, 2015

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Brilliant Venus shines in the western sky this evening.  It shines all other visible celestial objects this evening.  During late March is sets nearly three hours after sunset, appearing as a sparkling celestial gem in the western sky.   On Sunday, March 22, the moon appears about 3.5 degrees to the left  of Venus.  Look for the pair as the sky darkens.

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Meanwhile, bright Jupiter shines high in the southeastern sky this evening near the star Regulus.  Tonight Jupiter is nearly 17 degrees to the upper right of Regulus.

Venus and Mars, March 2015

Brilliant Venus and Mars shine from the western evening skies during March, just after their spectacular conjunction last month. Venus is the brightest celestial object after the sun and moon.  During March, Venus climbs higher in the sky.  By month’s end it sets over three hours after the sun.  It also appears farther north each evening.

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On March 1, Venus appears 3.5 degrees to the upper left of Mars.

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At mid-month, Venus appears higher in the sky and Mars is heading toward the sun’s glare.  They are separated by 10 degrees.

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Through a telescope at 100 power, Venus shows a distinct phase as shown above.

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A few nights after new moon the waxing crescent moon joins Venus.  The pair is separated by 3.5 degrees with Mars 13 degrees to the lower  right of Venus.

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By month’s end, Venus appears high in the western sky during the early evening, setting well after twilight ends with Mars 17 degrees below Venus.

More information about the evening appearance of Venus:

Venus as an Evening Star

Sun & Moon, March 2015

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Daylight increases 1 hour, 25 minutes during the month, that’s almost 3 minutes each day.  The vernal equinox occurs at 5:45 p.m. CDT when the sun’s rays are most redirect at the equator.  After this date and until late September, the sunlight is most directed toward the northern hemisphere.  At the equinox, the length of day and night are equal.  Coincidentally, early on equinox morning, a total solar eclipse is visible across the North Atlantic.  Partial solar eclipses are seen across Europe, North Africa, and western Asia.

Daylight Saving Time begins across significant geographic regions of North America in the early morning hours of March 8.  At this time clocks are advanced one hour.  As our chart indicates above, there’s not much daylight to save and shift into the evening hours.  When the clocks are “sprung forward,” there’s only 11 hours, 35 minutes of daylight  in the Chicago area and at the same latitude.

The Moon

 

NASA Photo

NASA Photo

 

Phase Date/Time Moonrise Moonset
Full Moon 03/05/15 (12:05 p.m. CST) 5:59 p.m. CST 6:34 a.m. CST (03/06)
Last Quarter 03/13/15 (12:48 p.m.) 1:41 a.m. 11:45 a.m.
New Moon 03/20/15 (4:36 a.m.) 6:59 a.m. 7:43 p.m.
First Quarter 03/27/15 (2:43 a.m.) 12:43 p.m. 2:50 a.m. (03/28)
Times are Central Daylight Time (except as noted) for Chicago, Illinois, from US Naval Observatory calculations. (For mjb)

Jupiter & Moon, March 1-3, 2015

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What’s that bright star near the moon tonight?  It’s Jupiter!  Jupiter is brightest “star” in the eastern sky during March, following Venus‘ brilliance in the western evening sky.

Separations are difficult to detect to the unaided eye.  In astronomy, we describe the distance between celestial objects in angular degrees, as measured by a protractor with your eye at the corner or vertex of the angle.  The full moon is about 1/2 degree across.  Our charts exaggerate the size of the moon so it cannot be used as a measuring scale on these images.

March 1:  The moon is 15 degrees (30 full moon diameters) to the upper right of Jupiter which is 15 degrees above the star Regulus

March 2:  The moon is about 6 degrees to the right of Jupiter

March 3:  The moon is 12 degrees below Jupiter and 6 degrees to the upper right of Regulus.

Venus, Mars & Jupiter, February 27, 2015

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Brilliant Venus shines from the western sky this evening with Mars nearby. Venus is now well past Mars. The planets are now nearly 3 degrees apart and separating by about 1 degree each day.

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At the same time, Jupiter shines from the eastern sky.  It appears about 15 degrees to the upper right of the star Regulus.

More posts about the planets:

Mars and Venus, February 2015

Venus as an Evening Star

Jupiter at opposition

Venus and Mars, February 23, 2015

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Brilliant Venus and Mars shine from the western sky this evening as seen from the Chicago area.  Venus is now past Mars and the pair is separated by less than 1 degree.

More posts about the planets:

Mars and Venus, February 2015

Venus as an Evening Star

 

earth_venInterestingly, if we were on Mars, we’d see Earth and Venus together in the sky.  The diagram above, from the computer simulation software Starry Night, shows the view from Mars with Venus 1 degree to the upper right of our world in the east-southeastern sky just before sunrise.  From Mars, Venus appears about the same brightness as it does in our sky this evening. In this simulated view, Earth is about half as bright as Venus, yet Earth from Mars is about 30 times brighter than Mars appears from Earth.  The result is two brilliant planets shining in the sky from Mars.

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