Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2017 March 17
Explanation: Just as the Moon goes through phases, Venus' visible sunlit hemisphere waxes and wanes. This composite of telescopic images illustrates the steady changes for the inner planet, seen in the west as the evening star, as Venus grows larger but narrows to a thin crescent from December 20, 2016 through March 10. Gliding along its interior orbit between Earth and Sun, Venus grows larger during that period because it is approaching planet Earth. Its crescent narrows, though, as Venus swings closer to our line-of-sight to the Sun. Closest to the Earth-Sun line but passing about 8 degrees north of the Sun on March 25, Venus will reach a (non-judgmental) inferior conjunction. Soon after, Venus will shine clearly above the eastern horizon in predawn skies as planet Earth's morning star.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.