The bright "evening star" Venus will be hard to miss this week, as the planet reaches its greatest brightness of the year on Tuesday (April 28). But first the planet will make a close approach to the crescent moon.
Today (April 26) the waxing crescent moon will be in conjunction with Venus, meaning the objects share the same celestial longitude and will appear close together in the sky.
The moment of conjunction occurs at 11:23 a.m. EDT (1523 GMT), and you can spot them above the southwestern horizon after sunset. The moon will be about 6 degrees south of Venus in the constellation of Taurus, the bull.
Although the conjunction occurs during the daytime, when most celestial objects are rendered invisible by sunlight, Venus is so bright that you can actually see it in broad daylight — if you know where to look. But the pair will be much easier to see once the dusk fades. Venus, which rises a couple hours after sunrise, will set tonight at 11:28 p.m. local time in New York City, just four minutes before the moon sets, according to timeanddate.com.
After its close encounter with the moon tonight, Venus will continue to grow even brighter for the next two days until it reaches its greatest brightness of the year on Tuesday (April 28).
At its brightest, the planet will be shining at a magnitude of -4.7. (Magnitude is a measurement of brightness used by astronomers, with lower numbers denoting brighter objects. Negative numbers denote exceptionally bright objects.)
Venus is currently the second-brightest object in the night sky, second only to the moon. On Tuesday night the planet will appear to shine more than nine times brighter than its brightest planetary competitor, Jupiter, and it will outshine Sirius, the brightest star in Earth's night sky, by at least 20-fold.
After this week, the bright "evening star" will slowly start to dim again before the planet disappears in the sun's glare at the end of May. It will reappear in early June as a "morning star."
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