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.

2010 May 21
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Calm, Crescent Moon, and Venus
Image Credit & Copyright: P-M Hedén (Clear Skies, TWAN)

Explanation: Last weekend, the Moon and Venus formed a beautiful close pair in the west after sunset, a scene enjoyed by skygazers all over the world. In this lovely view of the conjunction from Sweden, a calm lake Vallentuna lies in the foreground with sunset colors still fading behind the treeline on the far shore. The young Moon's sunlit crescent is bright, but its entire outline can be seen by Earthshine, light reflected from planet Earth itself. For well-placed skygazers, on Sunday, May 16 the Moon actually occulted (passed in front of) brilliant Venus. For many, the occultation was visible during daylight hours.

Tomorrow's picture: sunny Saturday

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