Friday, August 09, 2013
Look out for Venus and the Moon on Saturday 10 August (and Daylight Venus)
This weekend sees a very nice meeting of Moon and planets. First off the rank is Venus and the crescent Moon. The pair are 5 degrees apart (less than a hand-span apart), and will be visible in the evening sky for some time (Venus sets nearly two hours after the Sun).
Tomorrow is also a good time to see Venus in the daytime. Venus can be readlily visible during the day if you know where to look. Using the Moon as a handy guide will help you find it. Make sure the Sun is hidden behind something solid like a building or a wall when you are looking for Venus, not trees or your hand. Exposing your eyes directly to the glare of the Sun can be very dangerous and you could potentially lose your sight.
Look for the crescent Moon, and Venus should be visible as a bright dot less a hand-span (the distance covered by your fingers when you hand is help up at arms length in at "stop" gesture, about 6 degrees) below and too the right of the Moon. It's best to look in the afternoon when the Sun is low and the sky is less bright. You may need to look carefully for a while before Venus"pops" out at you. Sometimes locating Venus in binoculars will help with locating it with the unaided eye.
On the 11th the crescent Moon is midway between Venus and the bright star Spica. On the 12th the waxing Moon is just half a finger width from the bright star Spica.
On the 13th the Moon is two finger-widths from Saturn. This should look very nice in a small telescope.