Our closest neighbors in the Solar System are going through an interesting transition that will be easy and fun to follow for astronomy enthusiasts, between now and early January.
This month, Venus will crawl toward minimum conjunction, a period of time during which the planet will move between the Sun and Earth, according to NASA.
By Jan. 8, the University of Colorado’s Fisk Planetarium Center predicts that Venus will be on a direct line between Earth and the sun, the Denver Post reports.
The minimum conjunction period only occurs once every 584 days, according to In the Sky, which uses data from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to predict the motions of the planets.
Until January 8, the planet will continue to “sink” downward toward the southwest horizon, and will pass perihelion at the same time, the moment when Venus is closest to its neighbor, Earth. The proximity to Earth will make the planet appear larger and provide easy detection opportunities for novice planetary observers.
On December 28, viewers can see the planets Venus and Mercury at their lowest levels on the horizon between west and southwest.
NASA says Venus, the second brightest planet after the Moon, will be easier to spot. The agency recommends that the public take a look about 30 minutes before sunset for a good view.
January 5th will be the last evening when Venus is above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset, according to the US space agency.
A few days later, it will reappear in the morning sky as the sun rises, moving from the evening sky into the morning sky, John Keeler, director of the Fisk Planetarium Center, told the Denver Post.
On January 8, Earth’s “evil brother” (Venus) will be in a straight line between the Earth and the Sun.
NASA expects that Venus will reappear after stopping with the sun on or after January 11, and will be visible in the morning sky.
Venus will also have a higher conjunction in the future as well, at which time the planet will appear smaller and be on the farthest side of its orbit from Earth, rising from behind the Sun.
The last highest conjunction occurred on March 26, 2021 and the next one will occur on October 22, 2022, according to the Earth Sky Organization.
Venus is similar in size to Earth and although it is not the closest planet to the Sun, it is the hottest. Its dense atmosphere keeps the planet warm and filled with poisonous gases, and it is filled with mountains and volcanoes.
Venus also rotates strangely, as most planets revolve around the sun in the clockwise direction and revolve around themselves in the same direction, Venus rotates in the counterclockwise direction, while revolving around the sun in the clockwise direction, which is also known as moving in the direction opposite.
Since Venus is one of the brightest objects in the sky, after the moon, it was no stranger to ancient civilizations in history.
Keeler told the Denver Post: “In Maya culture, Kukulkan, a feathered serpent deity associated with Venus, passes into the underworld and is reborn in those eight days. And every time Venus passes in front of the sun, there is a legend about death and rebirth associated with it. This is the transition from the evening sky to the morning sky.
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