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Tonight the Moon and Venus Meet

sky pic
Source: Sky & Telescope Magazine

Even if you aren't a regular stargazer, the skies hold a special treat tonight after sunset. Venus--a planet so bright it is nicknamed the evening star--will shine next to the crescent moon in the southwestern sky. The pair will grow more brilliant as the dusky sky deepens and should be most striking in late twilight, before either celestial half begins to set. In fact, the two bodies are far apart: the moon is some 251,000 miles from Earth; Venus is nearly 400 times farther. But from our vantage, the two will appear to pass.

If by chance you miss this evening's show, you can catch a replay in one month, on December 29, at which point the moon will have lapped our planet and caught up with Venus once more. Look also for a third object near the moon and Venus in December, a faint star called Delta Capricorni or Deneb Algedi. You will have to look hard. The light from the moon will have reached your eyes in 1.3 seconds, whereas that from Delta Capricorni will have traveled for 39 years before you see it. Throughout the entire coming winter, Venus will continue to shine brighter and higher in the western or southwestern sky.

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