Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2006 January 10
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The Phases of Venus
Credit & Copyright: Wah!

Explanation: Venus goes through phases. Just like our Moon, Venus can appear as full as a disk or as a thin as a crescent. Venus, frequently the brightest object in the post-sunset or pre-sunrise sky, appears so small, however, that it usually requires binoculars or a small telescope to clearly see its current phase. The above time-lapse sequence, however, was taken over the course of many months and shows not only how Venus changes phase but how it's apparent angular size also changes. In the middle negative image, Venus is in a new phase, the same phase that occurred during its rare partial eclipse of the Sun in 2004.

Tomorrow's picture: tadpoles

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