WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

This evening I noticed a bright light (star?) that stayed right next to the Moon in the western sky. It seemed to keep the same distance from the Moon for a half hour while I watched it. I've never seen something so bright and so close to the Moon. Have you any idea if it is a planet or what it is?

Posted May 20, 2007

MIKE MOSS SAYS:      Don, (and several other people who wrote in with the same question after seeing the "show" in the sky last night) the pairing you noticed was the crescent moon together with the planet Venus. For several nights they had been in the same general direction in the sky with the moon gradually catching up. When you see something that strikes you as out of the ordinary like that, you can often find a mention, an explanation and/or a nice graphical illustration at

http://www.spaceweather.com/index.php

or

http://skytonight.com/observing/ataglance

Note that the photo shown here is from the spaceweather site, and was taken in Shreveport, LA and posted there by Cran Lucas. There are links at that site to many other really nice photos of the pairing. In most of them, as in the one here, you can clearly see "earthshine" lighting up the remainder of the moon beyond the crescent. While this effect is visible to the naked eye, it is enhanced by the long exposures of some of the photos. The light you see is sunlight reflected from the earth back toward the moon.  Also note that if you're reading this later and are ineterested in seeing the photos, the spaceweather site has an "archive" feature in the upper right. Just select and View "May 20, 2007."

Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all