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Originally posted by foremanator
However if I am not mistaken, Planets are not supposed to twinkle or change colour. And this one does.
The planet getting the most attention in our evening sky lately is Mars. It passed closest to the Earth Oct. 29 at just more than 43 million miles. Blazing like a dazzling topaz beacon at magnitude -2.3, Mars has become the night's premier celestial attraction. And yet, it still shines with less than one-sixth the intensity of the brightest planet in the sky: Venus. Indeed, Venus is the first planet you'll spot as darkness falls. You can even see it before sunset if you know just where to look in the southwest sky. It is gaining altitude in the twilight, boldly showing itself off after six months of hiding behind any inconvenient obstructions near the southwestern horizon. Venus is brightening too, since it is speeding toward Earth as it catches up to us in its faster orbit around the Sun.
The planet Venus beams at its brightest these next few evenings.
If it's clear, you can't miss Venus in the west at nightfall. It's visible virtually everywhere worldwide. Venus is always the 3rd brightest celestial body to light up the heavens, after the sun and moon. But this world does vary in brightness as seen from Earth, depending upon its phase and distance from us.
Venus shows phases - just like the moon. But Venus isn't brightest when we see it as full. Instead, it's brightest - like now - at a crescent phase, at the point where it's about one-quarter illuminated by sunlight as seen from our earthly perspective.
Whenever we see Venus at a full phase, it has to be far across the solar system - with its fully lighted hemisphere facing our way - at a maximum distance from Earth. That's where Venus was 8 months ago, when it reappeared in the evening. Since then, Venus has been moving closer to Earth in its smaller, faster orbit. All the while, its phase has been decreasing - yet its disk as seen from Earth has been growing larger as the planet gets nearer.
Disk getting larger - phase getting smaller. The right combination of phase and disk size is occurring right now, to cause Venus to be at its brightest in the evening sky.
Watch Venus this evening, as its basks in its moment of glory.