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Your Place in the Universe: Crescent Venus (Self-Guided)

 12/29/2021  |  04:45 PM - 09:00 PM

Earth & Sky

Time: Shortly after sunset Location: East Boulder or any place with a great view of the night sky. Optional Materials: A sky chart or a smartphone with your favorite night sky or star app downloaded to help you identify stars and planets as reference. Background: By now you’ve probably been enjoying the view of brilliant Venus in the west after sunset. Our “inferior” planets, Mercury and Venus, show distinct phases like the moon. Paradoxically, Venus appears brightest to us not when it’s “full,” but when it’s in its half-lit to crescent phases. That’s because Venus is closest to Earth those times. On December 29 less than 5% of Venus will be lit as seen from Earth, but that small sliver will appear far larger in our skies than when Venus is full! Your Mission: Get out those binoculars (or telescope if you have one) and have a look at Venus shortly after sunset. Can you see its slender shape? Don’t wait until too late, because the contrast between dark sky and brilliant planet may overpower your ability to see the crescent. December 21 is the Winter Solstice, shortest day of the year. From now until June 21, the days will start growing longer again. Register for a reminder in your inbox!

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David Ford
(720) 765-2722

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