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Monday, January 24, 2022

Venus is about to do something really cool, and it will be easy to see

Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor is about to undergo an interesting transition that will be easy and fun for novice sky gazers between now and early January.

This month, Venus is sinking lower and lower toward the southwestern horizon each evening at sunset. It’s also getting closer to Earth every night, so it looks like it’s getting bigger. With binoculars you can see its crescent shape facing the Sun, in the same way sunlight illuminates the crescent moon. On January 3, a faint crescent Moon will be visible just to the left of Venus.

Venus, the second-brightest body in the night sky after the Moon, will then disappear as it moves into inferior conjunction, meaning it will be moving between the Sun and Earth. On January 8, it will be in a straight line between the Earth and the Sun. A few days later, it will reappear in the morning sky around sunrise, later and later in the morning.

This 2016 photo provided by researcher Jane Greaves shows the planet Venus as seen from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Akatsuki probe.

“There is an eight-day period where it is lost in the glare of the sun as it does in the morning sky from the evening sky,” said John Keller, director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado. “If you see Venus on the evening of January 3rd, on the morning of January 12th or 13th you can catch it on the other side of the morning sky. And by the end of January, it will be high and bright in the morning sky.”

The planet Venus is most similar to Earth in size. The ancient Romans named it after their god of love, but the ancient Mayans also paid great attention to it, especially when it did what it is about to do.

“In Mayan culture, Kukuln, the winged serpent god associated with Venus, moves to the underworld and is then reborn in those eight days,” Keller said. “Every time Venus passes in front of the Sun, there is a death and rebirth myth associated with this passage from the evening to the morning sky.”

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The winter solstice will occur on a Tuesday, which means it is the shortest sunny day for the year in the Northern Hemisphere, just over nine hours and 21 minutes. On that day the sun will rise at 7:17 in the morning and set at 4:38 in the evening

At sunset that night, the three planets will appear in a more or less straight line in the southwestern sky. Venus will be at its lowest and, as mentioned, very bright. On a diagonal line to the left, Saturn and Jupiter will also be visible, roughly equal distances from each other.

This is of course only from Earth’s vantage point. Right now Venus is 29 million miles away from Earth, Jupiter is 504 million miles away and Saturn is 989 miles away.

Venus is the second planet from our Sun. According to NASA’s science page, its atmosphere is dense, toxic and covered with yellow clouds of sulfuric acid. It is the hottest planet in the Solar System at 900 degrees, due to its proximity to the Sun and the heat-trapping clouds. The surface is rust-colored and dotted with mountains and volcanoes, some of which may still be active. It rotates in the opposite direction from Earth, which means that if you can see the sunrise there, you have to look west. It is the only planet in our solar system that rotates like this.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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