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Venus Rising

August 4, 2016

One of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance is “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. It depicts the naked goddess standing atop a shell as she rises from the sea.

The planet Venus is rising right now, and it’s also a thing of beauty. The planet is the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon, so it’s long been associated with the goddess of love and beauty.

Venus has been out of sight for months, hidden in the glare as it passed behind the Sun. Now, though, it’s beginning to climb away from the Sun, and into view in the evening sky. But it’s a gradual process. The planet won’t be in good view for several more weeks.

This evening, for example, it’s just a few degrees above the western horizon about 20 or 30 minutes after sunset, when there’s still a lot of light in the sky. Venus is so bright, though, that if you have a clear horizon, you might still be able to pick it out.

And a couple of other bright objects help point the way. The crescent Moon stands to the upper left of Venus, also quite low in the sky. If you have binoculars, look close to the Moon for the planet Mercury, which looks like a moderately bright star.

And the planet Jupiter is farther to the upper left of the Moon. It also looks like a brilliant star, so you can’t miss it. And before long, you won’t be able to miss Venus, either — an astronomical beauty rising into the starry night sky.

We’ll have more about the Moon and Jupiter tomorrow.

Script by Damond Benningfield


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