If you’re looking for a bit of romance in your life, all you need to do is look up to the sky on Thursday, February 27, to see Venus and the moon share a ‘kiss’ during a rare celestial show.
As long as the weather is clear, you’ll be able to see a delicate curved crescent moon alongside a very bright Venus, as the two objects meet in the night sky.
But why will these two immensely bright objects come together and why are they shining so brightly?
Venus, named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, is also referred to as the ‘evening star’ when it is this bright, and we’re currently in the middle of an ‘apparition’ of Venus, which is period of time in which it is the furthest from the sun. The planet is predicted to shine at its brightest through June 2020 when it will be at its furthest away.
The moon, as we know, is simply the lunar surface reflecting the sun, as it takes 29.5 days to orbit the Earth. On Sunday, February 23, the moon was ‘new’, which meant it was roughly between Earth and the sun, meaning we couldn’t see it at all. However, as the moon travels on its journey around the Earth, we begin to see the side of it as it creates a crescent moon. This should be visible in the western sky for several days after its ‘new’ stage.
The planets and the moon roughly follow the same path through our sky, which is called the ecliptic. This is basically the plane of the solar system, where the moon also travels nearby. Therefore, the moon and planets occasionally appear to pass closely in the night sky.
In reality, when it seems as though Venus and the moon come into contact on February 27, Venus will actually be 84 million miles away from Earth, while the moon is 249,892 miles away.
If you don’t manage to catch a glimpse of the bright sky meeting between the two planets, you can expect to see another on March 28 when the crescent moon creeps back toward Venus for a very similar event.
As the moon creeps towards us, it will culminate in a close ‘super worm moon’, which is the last full moon of winter, on Monday, March 9, of this year.