Check Out the Moon and Venus Tonight (… and Comet Lulin) – Feb 27

Based on the number of comments I’ve been receiving, many people have been enjoying (or at least startled) by the grand display Venus has been putting on for the past few months. Tonight may be the best display yet as a very thin crescent Moon will join Venus.

This evening the Moon and Venus will be within 1.2 degrees of each other (for comparison the Moon is about 0.5 degrees across).

moonvenus_20090227

Moon and Venus in conjunction on the evening of Feb 27. Image created with Stellarium (www.stellarium.org).

While you are observing the two, there are a few fun things to watch out for. One, even though the Moon is a thin crescent, can you see a faint glow from the rest of the Moon? Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, what you are actually seeing is called Earthshine. If you were standing on the nightside of the Moon right now you would be seeing a Full Earth. Just like the Full Moon on Earth, the Full Earth is very bright. In fact, it is much brighter than the Full Moon since the Earth is bigger and more reflective. So just like on Earth where the landscape is illuminated by the Full Moon, we are seeing the same phenomenon on the Moon.

Second thing to look for, if you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope (any size will do) check out the shape of Venus. Venus is also a thin crescent and is shaped  very similar to the Moon. Below is a picture of Venus that I took through my 12″ telescope on the evening of Feb25. Venus will still look pretty much the same tonight.

The image below was taken by myself with a 12″ reflector and DMK 41AF02 camera on the evening of Feb 25.

venus_200902262

Again if anybody gets some cool pictures of the pair and would like to share them with other blog readers, post a link in the comments section and I will include them in a future posting.

As for Comet Lulin, the comet still remains bright enough to be seen without optical aid if you live at a very dark site. For the rest of us, a nice pair of binolculars will suffice. Tonight the comet is easy to see as it is located just to the west (or right) of Regulus, the brightest star in Leo. It is best to wait until after 8:30 pm when the comet has risen high enough above the eastern horizon to be seen.

lulin_0227

Sky chart showing the position of Comet Lulin and Saturn for 9:30 pm on the night of Feb 27. Chart produced with the Stellarium software (www.stellarium.org).

About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

6 Responses to Check Out the Moon and Venus Tonight (… and Comet Lulin) – Feb 27

  1. Bonnie Weber says:

    I am far from being an expert at what I am looking at in the skies, but tonight was absolutely beautiful. I live in Florida and tonight the moon and Venus were very brilliant. I had to hurry home and get online to find out what I was looking at. I am hoping I will be able to see it again tomorrow night.

    • ivana bottini says:

      Hi Bonnie:

      My name is Ivana Bottini and I enjoyed looking at the Nortwest Planet Venus and the Moon.
      It was a perfect weather EXTREMELY COLD – bellow 26 and VERY DARK.
      I took incredible pics if you like to see them let me know.
      I live in Mississauga-Ontario -Canada.
      I’m ready and very exited to be able to see it today again.
      Of course with a nice and hot chocolat.
      ivana

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Hi Ivana,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the Venus-Moon conjunction. If you’d like to share your pictures of the conjunction, I would like to post them on the Transient Sky blog.

      Way to go braving the cold. You probably don’t want to know what the temperature was in Tucson that night.

      Thanks again for commenting,
      – Carl

  2. dorigo says:

    Hi Carl,

    very nice blog! I am going to add you to my blogroll. I am a particle physicist working for a CERN experiment, and an amateur astronomer, with a past of meteor observation and a present of dobson dark-site chasing.

    Since you seem to be a lot into meteor observation, check out the video I took in the 2002 max of the leonids… There is one clip
    here (but I took four hours of footage).

    I recorded about 150 meteors on tape that night, and the corresponding ZHR plot is here. (there’s three more clips also there).

    Cheers,
    T.

  3. ivana says:

    Hi Carl, sorry that I did not see your comments before but anyways I will like to be in contact with and to have the chance to show you some of my pics. PLEASE send me a note by e-mail. with instructions how i can post information in Transient Sky blog.
    By the way I have an incredible pic of the moon …

    A Polar Hug =)

    ivana

    • Carl Hergenrother says:

      Hi Ivana,

      Sorry for the delayed response.

      Thanks for the offer to share your pictures with the blog. Usually people provide a url where their pictures are posted and I just grab them from there. Or you can send your pictures to
      transientsky1@yahoo.com

      Thanks again,
      – Carl

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