Sky Sight: Moon & Venus to Snuggle Sunday at Sunset

For 15 years, In&Out Magazine has been the definitive source of “Everything that’s going on” in and out of the community. We thank you, our readers, as well as the businesses that support the magazine through advertising, for that opportunity. But with little going on, and many businesses suspending or canceling their ads during the Covid-19 crisis, we are suspending publication of the magazine and web sites for the month of May. 

moon and venus
After sunset July 15, the crescent moon, 13 percent sunlit, will appear this close to Venus. Rendering courtesy Sky & Telescope / Stellarium

Venus, the “evening star,” is impossible to miss in the western sky lately, shining more brightly than any real star. Sunday evening, July 15, it will snuggle up remarkably close to the crescent moon, making for an easy-to-see sky event—if the weather cooperates.

The two heavenly objects are, of course, separated by millions of miles in space, but they will appear about 1 degree apart in the sky—roughly the width of one finger on an outstretched arm.

You can easily spot the pair as the sun is setting up until the pair themselves set later in the evening. Just find a place with a good view of the western horizon. In fact, if you go out while the sun is still up, and find the moon, then use the finger-on-outstretched-arm measuring device, you might be able to pick out Venus. Then tell your friends you’ve now seen two planets in the daytime with your naked eyes.

(You’re standing on the other one.)

“You won’t want to miss this,” said Diana Hannikainen, observing editor of Sky & Telescope magazine. “These are the two brightest objects in the nighttime sky.”

Also notice that the moon’s lit portion faces the spot where the sun set. That angle explains why only a portion of the moon is brightly lit, from our point of view. Only when the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the Earth does the moon appear full (with one rising as the other sets).

moon phases graphic

So get this: If you were standing on the moon Sunday night, you’d see a full Earth!

No special equipment is needed, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, pull them out and see if you can spot some craters on the moon—look for them especially along the line where sunlight and shadow meet.

If your telescope is powerful enough, you’ll see that Venus is football-shaped, Sky & Telescope editors point out. Similar to the moon, it goes through phases. Here’s how it works:

Venus orbits much closer to the sun than does Earth (a year on Venus is just 225 Earth-days). If you looked at it all from above, Venus would be racing around on the inside track, periodically lapping Earth. When Venus is on the far side of sun (but not blocked by the sun) it can be nearly fully illuminated from our vantagepoint. But when it’s “off to the side,” it’s only partly illuminated.

One other cool thing to look for: The shadowed portion of the moon will be dark, of course, but it’ll be visible. Why? Sunlight bounces off Earth and reflects off the shadowed part of the moon and back to us. It’s called earthshine.

Amazing Moon Facts

There is no permanent “dark side” of the moon. The moon, as it rotates, has days and nights all around. But since the moon’s rotation about its axis almost perfectly matches its orbit around Earth, we see only one side.

There’s actually no such thing as a full moon. When the sun, Earth and moon are in a line, we see what we call a full moon, but it’s actually never 100 percent full. When the alignment is 100 percent perfect, a total lunar eclipse occurs. But since Earth’s orbit around the sun is in a slightly different plane that the moon’s orbit around Earth, that perfect alignment is rare.

The moon is leaving. Our favorite satellite is moving away from us at about 1.5 inches per year. The cause is a complex gravitational interaction that creates tides and which is simultaneously slowing down Earth’s rotation. We happen to live at a moment in the grand scheme of time when total lunar (and solar) eclipses are possible. Eventually, in hundreds of millions of years, the moon will be too far from Earth for total eclipses—and Earth’s day will be about a month long.

Related: Why a Full Moon Looks Huge on the Horizon

Help Save Our Community
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our country and even more so this community. Supporting local businesses during this crisis can help keep our community economically viable. Please strongly consider supporting the businesses below, In&Out Magazine's display advertisers, as well as those in the Classifieds section of the magazine (see the full April 9 issue in PDF form). Many of these businesses have been part of the fabric of this community for two decades, not just serving our professional, service and retail needs but stepping up to support local charities, sports teams and so much more. Tip: If you know you’ll need to schedule a service, consider contacting a local business you trust and paying the standard fee for the deferred service. The links below go to their web sites.

Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates • 602-242-4592
Anthem Senior Living • 602-909-9550
Appliance Pros • 502-501-5501
Business Network of Anthem • 623-455-9630
Carroll Law Firm • 623-551-9366
Century 21 Real Estate - Jeff Huff • 623-223-1221
Creative Home Enhancements • 623-551-5409
Daisy Dream Homes Real Estate • 623-879-3277
Daisy Mountain Dentistry • 623-551-5250
Desert Foothills Air Conditioning • 480-595-0938
Edward Jones • 623-551-0523
Element Dental Centers • 623-551-5555
Hand & Stone Massage • 623-551-6602
Kendallwood Design • 602-252-3844
Kodiak Roofing • 602-501-7717
Luv My PC • 480-703-6609
Merrill Gardens • 623-201-4881
North Valley Water Solutions • 623-551-0515
Preferred Business of Anthem • 623-551-0523 
Prickett Realty • 623-551-8111
ProSkill Services • 623-551-7473
RE/MAX Professionals - Mike Higgins • 623-640-7502
Rise Above Remodeling • 623-551-2013
Soft Water Plus • 623-551-7383
SonoranScapes Landscaping • 602-842-9948
State Farm Insurance - Justin Simons • 623-551-3700
Storage at Anthem • 623-226-8634
Sunset Cabinets • 623-687-6579
Thompson & McGinnis Attorneys at Law • 602-952-2666
Titan Tree Care • 623-444-8448
Titan Pest Control • 623-879-8700
Wyman Plumbing & Mechanical • 623-551-6688

For more local businesses, see In&Out Magazine Classifed Ads >>>  
Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites and Live Science. He has written four novels. .

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites and Live Science. He has written four novels. .

npneditor has 531 posts and counting.See all posts by npneditor