November 7, 2021: During the early evening Venus and the moon group together in the southwest.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
On the evening of November 7, brilliant Venus and the crescent moon appear together low in the southwestern sky.
Each month, the moon passes the closest planet to Earth. Whether in the morning sky or evening sky, they make a photogenic pair.
This evening the crescent moon, 13% illuminated, is 3.9° to the lower right of Venus.
Look for a gentle glow on the moon’s night portion. This is reflected sunlight from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land, known as earthshine.
Recently, the American Geophysical Union reported research, led by Philip Goode at California’s Big Bear Observatory, shows that Earth is about 0.5% less reflective than at the beginning of the century. This could be attributed to a reduction of bright, reflective low-lying clouds over the eastern Pacific Ocean in the most recent years. This could be attributed to global changes in weather and climate.
Earth is the sixth most reflective planet in the solar system. This is known as the planet’s albedo. Our world reflects about 37% of the sunlight that falls on it. Venus, the planet with the highest albedo, reflects 65% of the inbound sunlight, while Jupiter reflects 52% and Saturn, 47%.
Photographers can capture earthshine with tripod mounted cameras with exposures ranging to several seconds, depending on the camera’s settings.
This image from earlier this year shows the moon, 9% illuminated, with earthshine.
Farther eastward, Saturn – about 35° to the upper left of Venus – is about one-third of the way up in the south. Bright Jupiter is 15.5° to the upper left of the Ringed Wonder.
January 5, 2022: Jupiter and the crescent are 5.5° in the evening sky. Look for Mercury and Saturn with the planet-moon duo. Earlier, Venus is low in the west-southwest. Before sunrise, Mars is near Antares.
January 4, 2022: Earth is at perihelion today – it’s closest point to the sun. Mars is a morning planet, while the evening planet pack – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – and the crescent moon are in the southwest after sundown.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.