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Astronomy Picture of the Day
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Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 February 25 - A Venus Flyby
Explanation: On a mission to explore the inner heliosphere and solar corona, on July 11, 2020 the Wide-field Imager on board NASA's Parker Solar Probe captured this stunning view of the nightside of Venus at distance of about 12,400 kilometers (7,693 miles). The spacecraft was making the third of seven gravity-assist flybys of the inner planet. The gravity-asssist flybys are designed to use the approach to Venus to help the probe alter its orbit to ultimately come within 6 million kilometers (4 million miles) of the solar surface in late 2025. A surprising image, the side-looking camera seems to peer through the clouds to show a dark feature near the center known as Aphrodite Terra, the largest highland region on the Venusian surface. The bright rim at the edge of the planet is nightglow likely emitted by excited oxygen atoms recombining into molecules in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Bright streaks and blemishes throughout the image are likely due to energetic charged particles, and dust near the camera reflecting sunlight. Skygazers from planet Earth probably recognize the familiar stars of Orion's belt and sword at lower right.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 November 14 - Venus, Mercury, and the Waning Moon
Explanation: Yesterday, early morning risers around planet Earth were treated to a waning Moon low in the east as the sky grew bright before dawn. From the Island of Ortigia, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy this simple snapshot found the slender sunlit crescent just before sunrise. Never wandering far from the Sun in Earth's sky, inner planets Venus and Mercury shared the calm seaside view. Also in the frame, right of the line-up of Luna and planets, is bright star Spica, alpha star of the constellation Virgo and one of the 20 brightest stars in Earth's night. Tomorrow the Moon will be New. The dark lunar disk means mostly dark nights for planet Earth in the coming week and a good chance to watch the annual Leonid Meteor Shower.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 October 27 - Venusian Volcano Imagined
Explanation: What would an erupting volcano on Venus look like? Evidence of currently active volcanoes on Venus was announced earlier this year with the unexplained warmth of regions thought to contain only ancient volcanoes. Although large scale images of Venus have been taken with radar, thick sulfuric acid clouds would inhibit the taking of optical light vistas. Nevertheless, an artist's reconstruction of a Venusian volcano erupting is featured. Volcanoes could play an important role in a life cycle on Venus as they could push chemical foods into the cooler upper atmosphere where hungry microbes might float. Pictured, the plume from an erupting volcano billows upwards, while a vast lava field covers part of the hot and cracked surface of Earth's overheated twin. The possibility of airborne microbial Venusians is certainly exciting, but currently controversial.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 September 15 - Biomarker Phosphine Discovered in the Atmosphere of Venus
Explanation: Could there be life floating in the atmosphere of Venus? Although Earth's planetary neighbor has a surface considered too extreme for any known lifeform, Venus' upper atmosphere may be sufficiently mild for tiny airborne microbes. This usually disfavored prospect took an unexpected upturn yesterday with the announcement of the discovery of Venusian phosphine. The chemical phosphine (PH3) is a considered a biomarker because it seems so hard to create from routine chemical processes thought to occur on or around a rocky world such as Venus -- but it is known to be created by microbial life on Earth. The featured image of Venus and its thick clouds was taken in two bands of ultraviolet light by the Venus-orbing Akatsuki, a Japanese robotic satellite that has been orbiting the cloud-shrouded world since 2015. The phosphine finding, if confirmed, may set off renewed interest in searching for other indications of life floating high in the atmosphere of our Solar System's second planet out from the Sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 June 21 - Moon Occults Venus
Explanation: It may look like Earthrise, but it's actually Venus-set. Just after sunrise two days ago, both the Moon and Venus also rose. But then the Moon overtook Venus. In the featured image sequence centered on the Moon, Venus is shown increasingly angularly close to the Moon. In the famous Earthrise image taken just over 50 years ago, the Earth was captured rising over the edge of the Moon, as seen from the Apollo 8 crew orbiting the Moon. This similar Venus-set image was taken from Earth, of course, specifically Estonia. Venus shows only a thin crescent because last week it passed nearly in front of the Sun, as seen from Earth. The Moon shows only a thin crescent because it will soon be passing directly in front of the Sun, as seen from Earth. Today, in fact, two days after this image was taken, the Moon will create a solar eclipse, with a thin swath across the Earth treated to an annular solar eclipse.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 June 8 - Atmospheric Ring of Venus
Explanation: Why is Venus surrounded by a bright ring? Sometimes called a ring of fire, this rare ring is caused by the Sun's light being visible all around an object. Usually seen around the Moon during an annular solar eclipse, the ring of fire is also visible when either Venus or Mercury cross the face of our Sun. In the featured pictured taken last week, though, Venus did not pass directly in front of the Sun -- the complete atmospheric ring was caused by sunlight scattering around the planet. Venus passed within one degree of the Sun during its inferior conjunction, as it moved from the evening to the morning sky.  The extreme brightness of the nearby Sun made capturing such an image very difficult -- the featured image was only made possible by using a temporary filter to block direct sunlight. The image was captured from Thorton, Leicestershire, UK. The pervasive blue sky glow indicates that the image was actually captured during the day.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 June 3 - The Dance of Venus and Earth
Explanation: Every time Venus passes the Earth, it shows the same face. This remarkable fact has been known for only about 50 years, ever since radio telescopes have been able to peer beneath Venus' thick clouds and track its slowly rotating surface. This inferior conjunction -- when Venus and Earth are the closest -- occurs today. The featured animation shows the positions of the Sun, Venus and Earth between 2010-2023 based on NASA-downloaded data, while a mock yellow 'arm' has been fixed to the ground on Venus to indicate rotation. The reason for this unusual 1.6-year resonance is the gravitational influence that Earth has on Venus, which surprisingly dominates the Sun's tidal effect. If Venus could be seen through the Sun's glare today, it would show just a very slight sliver of a crescent. Although previously visible in the evening sky, starting tomorrow, Venus will appear in the morning sky -- on the other side of the Sun as viewed from Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 May 30 - Green Flashes: Sun, Moon, Venus, Mercury
Explanation: Follow a sunset on a clear day against a distant horizon and you might glimpse green just as the Sun disappears from view. The green flash is caused by refraction of light rays traveling to the eye over a long path through the atmosphere. Shorter wavelengths refract more strongly than longer redder wavelengths and the separation of colors lends a green hue to the last visible vestige of the solar disk. It's harder to see a green flash from the Moon, not to mention the diminutive disks of Venus and Mercury. But a telescope or telephoto lens and camera can help catch this tantalizing result of atmospheric refraction when the celestial bodies are near the horizon. From Sicily, the top panels were recorded on March 18, 2019 for the Sun and May 8, 2020 for the Moon. Also from the Mediterranean island, the bottom panels were shot during the twilight apparition of Venus and Mercury near the western horizon on May 24.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 May 29 - Mercury Meets Crescent Venus
Explanation: That's not a bright star and crescent Moon caught between branches of a eucalyptus tree. It's Venus in a crescent phase and Mercury. Near the western horizon after sunset, the two inner planets closely shared this telescopic field of view on May 22, seen from a balcony in Civitavecchia, Italy. Venus, the very bright celestial beacon, is wandering lower into the evening twilight. It grows larger in apparent size and shows a thinner crescent as it heads toward its inferior conjunction, positioned between Earth and Sun on June 3. Mercury, in a fuller phase, is climbing in the western sky though, reaching its maximum angular distance from the Sun on June 4 Still, this remarkably close pairing with brilliant Venus made Mercury, usually lost in bright twilight skies, easier to spot from planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 May 21 - Phases of Venus
Explanation: Just as the Moon goes through phases, Venus' visible sunlit hemisphere waxes and wanes. This composite of backyard telescopic images illustrates the steady changes for Venus during its current stint as our evening star, as the inner planet grows larger but narrows to a thin crescent. Images from bottom to top were taken during 2020 on dates February 27, March 20, April 14, April 24, May 8, and May 14. Gliding along its interior orbit between Earth and Sun, Venus grows larger during that period because it is approaching planet Earth. Its crescent narrows, though, as Venus swings closer to our line-of-sight to the Sun. Closest to the Earth-Sun line but passing about 1/2 degree north of the Sun on June 3, Venus will reach a (non-judgmental) inferior conjunction. Soon after, Venus will shine clearly above the eastern horizon in predawn skies as planet Earth's morning star. After sunset tonight look for Venus above the western horizon and you can also spot elusive innermost planet Mercury.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 15 - A Cosmic Triangle
Explanation: It was an astronomical triple play. Setting on the left, just after sunset near the end of last month, was our Moon -- showing a bright crescent phase. Setting on the right was Venus, the brightest planet in the evening sky last month -- and this month, too. With a small telescope, you could tell that Venus' phase was half, meaning that only half of the planet, as visible from Earth, was exposed to direct sunlight and brightly lit. High above and much further in the distance was the Pleiades star cluster. Although the Moon and Venus move with respect to the background stars, the Pleiades do not -- because they are background stars. In the beginning of this month, Venus appeared to move right in front of the Pleiades, a rare event that happens only once every eight years. The featured image captured this cosmic triangle with a series of exposures taken from the same camera over 70 minutes near Avonlea, Saskatchewan, Canada. The positions of the celestial objects was predicted. The only thing unpredicted was the existence of the foreground tree -- and the astrophotographer is still unsure what type of tree that is.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 11 - Venus and the Pleiades in April
Explanation: Shared around world in early April skies Venus, our brilliant evening star, wandered across the face of the lovely Pleiades star cluster. This timelapse image follows the path of the inner planet during the beautiful conjunction showing its daily approach to the stars of the Seven Sisters. From a composite of tracked exposures made with a telephoto lens, the field of view is also appropriate for binocular equipped skygazers. While the star cluster and planet were easily seen with the naked-eye, the spiky appearance of our sister planet in the picture is the result of a diffraction pattern produced by the camera's lens. All images were taken from a home garden in Chiuduno, Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy, fortunate in good weather and clear spring nights.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 4 - Venus and the Sisters
Explanation: After wandering about as far from the Sun on the sky as Venus can get, the brilliant evening star is crossing paths with the sister stars of the Pleiades cluster. Look west after sunset and you can share the ongoing conjunction with skygazers around the world. Taken on April 2, this celestial group photo captures the view from Portal, Arizona, USA. Even bright naked-eye Pleiades stars prove to be much fainter than Venus though. Apparent in deeper telescopic images, the cluster's dusty surroundings and familiar bluish reflection nebulae aren't quite visible, while brighter Venus itself is almost overwhelming in the single exposure. And while Venus and the Sisters do look a little star-crossed, their spiky appearance is the diffraction pattern caused by multiple leaves in the aperture of the telephoto lens. The last similar conjunction of Venus and Pleiades occurred nearly 8 years ago.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 2 - Venus and the Pleiades in April
Explanation: Venus is currently the brilliant evening star. Shared around world, in tonight's sky Venus will begin to wander across the face of the lovely Pleiades star cluster. This digital sky map illustrates the path of the inner planet as the beautiful conjunction evolves, showing its position on the sky over the next few days. The field of view shown is appropriate for binocular equipped skygazers but the star cluster and planet are easily seen with the naked-eye. As viewed from our fair planet, Venus passed in front of the stars of the Seven Sisters 8 years ago, and will again 8 years hence. In fact, orbiting the Sun 13 Venus years are almost equal to 8 years on planet Earth. So we can expect our sister planet to visit nearly the same place in our sky every 8 years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 January 14 - Evidence of an Active Volcano on Venus
Explanation: Are volcanoes still active on Venus? More volcanoes are known on Venus than Earth, but when Venusian volcanoes last erupted is not directly known. Evidence bolstering very recent volcanism on Venus has recently been uncovered, though, right here on Earth. Lab results showed that images of surface lava would become dim in the infrared in only months in the dense Venusian atmosphere, a dimming not seen in ESA's Venus Express images. Venus Express entered orbit around Venus in 2006 and remained in contact with Earth until 2014. Therefore, the infrared glow (shown in false-color red) recorded by Venus Express for Idunn Mons and featured here on a NASA Magellan image indicates that this volcano erupted very recently -- and is still active today. Understanding the volcanics of Venus might lead to insight about the volcanics on Earth, as well as elsewhere in our Solar System.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 November 28 - Moon and Planets at Twilight
Explanation: This week's ongoing conjunction of Venus and Jupiter may have whetted your appetite for skygazing. Tonight is the main course though. On November 28, a young crescent Moon will join them posing next to the two bright planets above the western horizon at twilight. Much like tonight's visual feast, this night skyscape shows a young lunar crescent and brilliant Venus in the western evening twilight on October 29. The celestial beacons are setting over distant mountains and the Minya monastery, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China, planet Earth. Then Mercury, not Jupiter, was a celestial companion to Venus and the Moon. The fleeting innermost planet is just visible here in the bright twilight, below and left of Venus and near the center of the frame. Tomorrow, November 29, the crescent Moon will also help you spot planet Saturn for dessert.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 November 26 - Venus and Jupiter on the Horizon
Explanation: What are those two bright objects on the horizon? Venus and Jupiter. The two brightest planets in the night sky passed very close together -- angularly -- just two days ago. In real space, they were just about as far apart as usual, since Jupiter (on the right) orbits the Sun around seven times farther out than Venus. The planetary duo were captured together two days ago in a picturesque sunset sky from Llers, Catalonia, Spain between a tree and the astrophotographer's daughter. These two planets will continue to stand out in the evening sky, toward the west, for the next few days, with a sliver of a crescent Moon and a fainter Saturn also visible nearby. As November ends, Jupiter will sink lower into the sunset horizon with each subsequent night, while Venus will rise higher. The next Jupiter-Venus conjunction will occur in early 2021.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 March 4 - Celestial Alignment over Sicilian Shore
Explanation: This was a sunrise to remember. About a month ago, just before the dawn of the Sun, an impressive alignment of celestial objects was on display to the east. Pictured, brightest and closest to the horizon, is the Moon. The Moon's orange glow is caused by the scattering away of blue light by the intervening atmosphere. Next brightest and next closest to the horizon is the planet Venus. Compared to the Moon, Venus appears more blue -- as can (also) be seen in its reflection from the water. Next up is Jupiter, while the bright object above Jupiter is the star Antares. Although this display was visible from almost anywhere on planet Earth, the featured image was taken along a picturesque seashore near the city of Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, in the country of Italy. This month Saturn appears between Venus and Jupiter before sunrise, while Mars is visible just after sunset.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 February 10 - Venus Unveiled
Explanation: What does Venus look like beneath its thick clouds? These clouds keep the planet's surface hidden from even the powerful telescopic eyes of Earth-bound astronomers. In the early 1990s, though, using imaging radar, NASA's Venus-orbiting Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the face of Venus and produced spectacular high resolution images of the planet's surface. Colors used in this computer generated picture of Magellan radar data are based on color images from the surface of Venus transmitted by the Soviet Venera 13 and 14 landers. The bright area running roughly across the middle represents the largest highland region of Venus known as Aphrodite Terra. Venus, on the left, is about the same size as our Earth, shown to the right for comparison.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 February 6 - Moon and Venus Appulse over a Tree
Explanation: What's that bright spot near the Moon? Venus. About a week ago, Earth's Moon appeared unusually close to the distant planet Venus, an angular coincidence known as an appulse. Similar to a conjunction, which is a coordinate term, an appulse refers more generally to when two celestial objects appear close together. This Moon and Venus appulse -- once as close as 0.05 degrees -- was captured rising during the early morning behind Koko crater on the island of O'ahu in Hawaii, USA. The Moon was in a crescent phase with its lower left reflecting direct sunlight, while the rest of the Moon is seen because of Earthshine, sunlight first reflected from the Earth. Some leaves and branches of a foreground kiawe tree are seen in silhouette in front of the bright crescent, while others, in front of a darker background, appear white because of forward scattering. Appulses involving the Moon typically occur several times a year: for example the Moon is expected to pass within 0.20 degrees of distant Saturn on March 1.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 October 5 - The Last Days of Venus as the Evening Star
Explanation: That's not a young crescent Moon poised above the hills along the western horizon at sunset. It's Venus in a crescent phase. About 54 million kilometers away and less than 20 percent illuminated, it was captured by telescope and camera on September 30 near Bacau, Romania. The bright celestial beacon is now languishing in the evening twilight, its days as the Evening Star in 2018 coming to a close. But it also grows larger in apparent size and becomes an ever thinner crescent in telescopic views. Heading toward an inferior conjunction (non-judgmental), the inner planet will be positioned between Earth and Sun on October 26 and lost from view in the solar glare. At month's end a crescent Venus will reappear in the east though, rising just before the Sun as the brilliant Morning Star.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 July 17 - Moon and Venus over Cannon Beach
Explanation: What's that spot next to the Moon? Venus. Two days ago, the crescent Moon slowly drifted past Venus, appearing within just one degree at its closest. This conjunction, though, was just one of several photographic adventures for our Moon this month (moon-th), because, for one, a partial solar eclipse occurred just a few days before, on July 12. Currently, the Moon appears to be brightening, as seen from the Earth, as the fraction of its face illuminated by the Sun continues to increase. In a few days, the Moon will appear more than half full, and therefore be in its gibbous phase. Next week the face of the Moon that always faces the Earth will become, as viewed from the Earth, completely illuminated by the Sun. Even this full phase will bring an adventure, though, as a total eclipse of this Thunder Moon will occur on July 27. Don't worry about our Luna getting tired, though, because she'll be new again next month (moon-th) -- August 11 to be exact -- just as she causes another partial eclipse of the Sun. Pictured, Venus and the Moon were captured from Cannon Beach above a rock formation off the Oregon (USA) coast known as the Needles. About an hour after this image was taken, the spin of the Earth caused both Venus and the Moon to set.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 May 19 - Reflections of Venus and Moon
Explanation: Posing near the western horizon, a brilliant evening star and slender young crescent shared reflections in a calm sea last Thursday after sunset. Recorded in this snapshot from a beach at Santa Marinella near Rome, Italy, the lovely celestial conjunction of the two brightest beacons in the night sky could be enjoyed around the world. Seaside, light reflected by briefly horizontal surfaces of the gentle waves forms the shimmering columns across the water. Similar reflections by fluttering atmospheric ice crystals can create sometimes mysterious pillars of light. Of course, earthlight itself visibly illuminates the faint lunar night side.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 March 4 - Clouds, Birds, Moon, Venus
Explanation: Sometimes the sky above can become quite a show. In early September of 2010, for example, the Moon and Venus converged, creating quite a sight by itself for sky enthusiasts around the globe. From some locations, though, the sky was even more picturesque. In the featured image taken in Spain, a crescent Moon and the planet Venus, on the far right, were captured during sunset posing against a deep blue sky. In the foreground, dark storm clouds loom across the image bottom, while a white anvil cloud shape appears above. Black specks dot the frame, caused by a flock of birds taking flight. Very soon after this picture was taken, however, the birds passed by, the storm ended, and Venus and the Moon set. Bright Venus is again visible just after sunset this month (2018 March) and will appear quite near Mercury tonight and the rest of this week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 February 4 - Venus and the Triply Ultraviolet Sun
Explanation: An unusual type of solar eclipse occurred in 2012. Usually it is the Earth's Moon that eclipses the Sun. That year, most unusually, the planet Venus took a turn. Like a solar eclipse by the Moon, the phase of Venus became a continually thinner crescent as Venus became increasingly better aligned with the Sun. Eventually the alignment became perfect and the phase of Venus dropped to zero. The dark spot of Venus crossed our parent star. The situation could technically be labeled a Venusian annular eclipse with an extraordinarily large ring of fire. Pictured here during the occultation, the Sun was imaged in three colors of ultraviolet light by the Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, with the dark region toward the right corresponding to a coronal hole. Hours later, as Venus continued in its orbit, a slight crescent phase appeared again. The next Venusian transit across the Sun will occur in 2117.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 January 30 - Venus at Night in Infrared from Akatsuki
Explanation: Why is Venus so different from Earth? To help find out, Japan launched the robotic Akatsuki spacecraft which entered orbit around Venus late in 2015 after an unplanned five-year adventure around the inner Solar System. Even though Akatsuki was past its original planned lifetime, the spacecraft and instruments were operating so well that much of its original mission was reinstated. Also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter, Akatsuki's instruments investigated unknowns about Earth's sister planet, including whether volcanoes are still active, whether lightning occurs in the dense atmosphere, and why wind speeds greatly exceed the planet's rotation speed. In the featured image taken by Akatsuki's IR2 camera, Venus's night side shows a jagged-edged equatorial band of high dark clouds absorbing infrared light from hotter layers deeper in Venus' atmosphere. The bright orange and black stripe on the upper right is a false digital artifact that covers part of the much brighter day side of Venus. Analyses of Akatsuki images and data has shown that Venus has equatorial jet similar to Earth's jet stream.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 November 12 - A Happy Sky over Los Angeles
Explanation: Sometimes, the sky may seem to smile over much of planet Earth. On this day in 2008, visible the world over, was an unusual superposition of our Moon and the planets Venus and Jupiter. Pictures taken at the right time show a crescent Moon that appears to be a smile when paired with the planetary conjunction of seemingly nearby Jupiter and Venus. Pictured here is the scene as it appeared from Mt. Wilson Observatory overlooking Los Angeles, California, USA after sunset on 2008 November 30. Highest in the sky and farthest in the distance is the planet Jupiter. Significantly closer and visible to Jupiter's lower left is Venus, appearing through Earth's atmospheric clouds as unusually blue. On the far right, above the horizon, is our Moon, in a waxing crescent phase. Thin clouds illuminated by the Moon appear unusually orange. Sprawling across the bottom of the image are the hills of Los Angeles, many covered by a thin haze, while LA skyscrapers are visible on the far left. Hours after the taking of this image, the Moon approached the distant duo, briefly eclipsed Venus, and then moved on. This week, another conjunction of Venus and Jupiter is occurring and is visible to much of planet Earth to the east just before sunrise.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 March 17 - Phases of Venus
Explanation: Just as the Moon goes through phases, Venus' visible sunlit hemisphere waxes and wanes. This composite of telescopic images illustrates the steady changes for the inner planet, seen in the west as the evening star, as Venus grows larger but narrows to a thin crescent from December 20, 2016 through March 10. Gliding along its interior orbit between Earth and Sun, Venus grows larger during that period because it is approaching planet Earth. Its crescent narrows, though, as Venus swings closer to our line-of-sight to the Sun. Closest to the Earth-Sun line but passing about 8 degrees north of the Sun on March 25, Venus will reach a (non-judgmental) inferior conjunction. Soon after, Venus will shine clearly above the eastern horizon in predawn skies as planet Earth's morning star.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 January 27 - Venus Through Water Drops
Explanation: Now the brilliant "star" in planet Earth's evening skies, Venus is captured in this creative astrophotograph. Taken with a close-focusing lens on January 18 from Milton Keynes, UK, it shows multiple images of the sky above the western horizon shortly after sunset. The images were created by water drops on a glass pane fixed to a tree. Surface tension has drawn the water drops into simple lens-like shapes. Refracting light, the drops create images that are upside-down, so the scene has been rotated to allow comfortable right-side up viewing of a macro-multiple-skyscape.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 January 13 - When Mars met Neptune
Explanation: On January 1, a Mars-assisted viewing opportunity allowed binocular-equipped skygazers to cross an ice giant off their life list. Remarkably, the line-of-sight to the bright Red Planet could guide you to within 0.02 degrees of a faint, pale Neptune in Earth's night skies. Taken within 3 hours of their closest conjunction, these panels capture the odd couple's appearance in skies over Brisbane, Australia. A wide field view includes the new year's slender crescent moon near the western horizon and Venus as the brilliant evening star. Mars and Neptune are indicated at the upper right. The two inset magnified views were taken with the same telephoto lens and so do show the Mars-Neptune conjunction and the apparent size of the crescent moon at the same scale. This week Neptune hangs out near Venus on the western sky.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 January 6 - New York Harbor Moonset
Explanation: Moonset on January 1 is captured in this sea and night sky snapshot from the port city of New York. Its warm moonlight shining through haze and thin clouds, this New Year's Moon was about 3 days old, in a waxing crescent phase. The visible lunar disk is about 10 percent illuminated. Also easy to spot in hazy urban skies, Venus blazes forth over the western horizon, begining the year as Earth's evening star. Like the Moon, Venus goes through a range of phases as seen from planet Earth. As the year began, telescopic views of the brilliant inner planet's disk would show it about 50 percent illuminated, growing into a larger but thinner crescent by early March. New York Harbor's welcoming beacon, the Statue of Liberty, anchors a terrestrial corner of the night's triangle at the far left.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 December 23 - Once Upon a Solstice Eve
Explanation: Once upon a solstice eve a little prince gazed across a frozen little planet at the edge of a large galaxy. The little planet was planet Earth of course, seen in this horizon to horizon, nadir to zenith projection, a digitally stitched mosaic from the shores of the Sec reservoir in the Czech Republic. So the large galaxy must be the Milky Way, and the brightest beacon on the planet's horizon Venus, visible around the globe as this season's brilliant evening star. Celestial treasures in surrounding dark skies include the Pleiades star cluster, and the North America nebula found along a dusty galactic rift. Embracing Venus, Zodiacal light traces a faint band across the night, but the more colorful pillars of light shine above streets a little closer to home.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 October 16 - Cylindrical Mountains on Venus
Explanation: What could cause a huge cylindrical mountain to rise from the surface of Venus? Such features that occur on Venus are known as coronas. Pictured here in the foreground is 500-kilometer wide Atete Corona found in a region of Venus known as the Galindo. The featured image was created by combining multiple radar maps of the region to form a computer-generated three-dimensional perspective. The series of dark rectangles that cross the image from top to bottom were created by the imaging procedure and are not real. The origin of massive coronas remains a topic of research although speculation holds they result from volcanism. Studying Venusian coronas help scientists better understand the inner structure of both Venus and Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 June 7 - Night on Venus in Infrared from Orbiting Akatsuki
Explanation: Why is Venus so different from Earth? To help find out, Japan launched the robotic Akatsuki spacecraft which entered orbit around Venus late last year after an unplanned five-year adventure around the inner Solar System. Even though Akatsuki has passed its original planned lifetime, the spacecraft and its instruments are operating so well that much of its original mission has been reinstated. In the featured image taken by Akatsuki late last month, Venus was captured in infrared light showing a surprising amount of atmospheric structure on its night side. The vertical orange terminator stripe between night and day is so wide because of light is so diffused by Venus' thick atmosphere. Also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter, Akatsuki has cameras and instruments that will investigate unknowns about the planet, including whether volcanoes are still active, whether lightning occurs in the dense atmosphere, and why wind speeds greatly exceed the planet's rotation speed.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 April 14 - Full Venus and Crescent Moon Rise
Explanation: Inner planet Venus and a thin crescent Moon are never found far from the Sun in planet Earth's skies. Taken near dawn on April 6, this timelapse composite shows them both rising just before the Sun. The mountaintop Teide Observatory domes on the fortunate island of Tenerife appear in silhouette against the twilight. In fact, the series of telephoto exposures follows the occultation of Venus by the Moon in three frames. Far from Earth in its orbit and in a nearly full phase, Venus was 96 percent illuminated. Near perigee or closest approach to Earth, the Moon's slender crescent represents about 2 percent of the lunar disk in sunlight. Seen in the first two exposures, the brilliant morning star only vanishes in the third as it winks out behind the bright lunar limb. Five minutes of the dramatic occultation at dawn is compressed into 15 seconds in this timelapse video (vimeo).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 December 10 - Daytime Moon Meets Morning Star
Explanation: Venus now appears as Earth's brilliant morning star, standing in a line-up of planets above the southeastern horizon before dawn. For most, the silvery celestial beacon rose predawn in a close pairing with an old crescent Moon on Monday, December 7. But also widely seen from locations in North and Central America, the lunar crescent actually occulted or passed in front of Venus during Monday's daylight hours. This time series follows the daytime approach of Moon and morning star in clear blue skies from Phoenix, Arizona. The progression of nine sharp telescopic snapshots, made between 9:30am and 9:35am local time, runs from lower left to upper right, when Venus winked out behind the bright lunar limb.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 November 3 - Seeking Venus under the Spitzkoppe Arch
Explanation: What's that in the sky? Although there was much to see in this spectacular panorama taken during the early morning hours of a day in late September, the brightest object in the sky was clearly the planet Venus. In the featured image, Venus was captured actually through a natural rock bridge, itself picturesque, in Spitzkoppe, Namibia. The planet, on the left of the opening, was complemented by a silhouette of the astrophotographer on the right. Above and beyond the rock bridge were many famous icons of a dark night sky, including, from left to right, the Pleiades star cluster, the Orion Nebula, the bright star Sirius, and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. This week, Venus remains visible to the east in the pre-dawn sky, being complemented by Mars, which is angularly quite close.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 October 25 - Jupiter and Venus from Earth
Explanation: It was visible around the world. The sunset conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2012 was visible almost no matter where you lived on Earth. Anyone on the planet with a clear western horizon at sunset could see them. Pictured above in 2012, a creative photographer traveled away from the town lights of Szubin, Poland to image a near closest approach of the two planets. The bright planets were separated only by three degrees and his daughter striking a humorous pose. A faint red sunset still glowed in the background. Jupiter and Venus will be at it again this week before sunrise, passing under two degree from each other -- and even with bonus planet Mars nearby.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 July 23 - Comet PanSTARRS, Moon, and Venus
Explanation: It is the object to the left of the big tree that's generating much recent excitement. If you look closely, there you can see Comet PanSTARRS, complete with two tails. During July, this comet has increased markedly in brightness and has just passed its closest approach to Earth. The statuesque tree in the center is a Norfolk Island Pine, and to either side of this tree are New Zealand Pohutukawa trees. Over the trees, far in the distance, are bright Venus and an even brighter crescent Moon. If you look even more closely, you can find Jupiter hidden in the branches of the pine. The featured image was taken a few days ago in Fergusson Park, New Zealand, looking over Tauranga Harbour Inlet. In the coming days and weeks, Comet C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) will slowly move away from the Sun and the Earth, drift deep into southern skies, and fade.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 July 3 - Venus and Jupiter are Far
Explanation: On June 30 Venus and Jupiter were actually far apart, but both appeared close in western skies at dusk. Near the culmination of this year's gorgeous conjunction, the two bright evening planets are captured in the same telescopic field of view in this sharp digital stack of images taken after sunset from Poznań in west-central Poland. In fact, banded gas giant Jupiter was about 910 million kilometers from Poland. That's over 11 times farther than crescent Venus, only 78 million kilometers distant at the time. But since the diameter of giant planet Jupiter is over 11 times larger than Venus both planets show about the same angular size. Of course, 16th century Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus would also have enjoyed the simultaneous telescopic view including Jupiter's four Galilean moons and a crescent Venus. Observations of Jupiter's moons and Venus' crescent phase were evidence for the Copernican or heliocentric model of the solar system.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 July 2 - Venus and Jupiter are Close
Explanation: On June 30, Venus and Jupiter were close in western skies at dusk. Near the culmination of this year's gorgeous conjunction, the two bright evening planets are captured in the same telescopic field of view in this image taken after sunset from Bejing, China. As the two bright planets set together in the west, a nearly Full Moon rose above the horizon to the south and east. Imaged that night with the same telescope and camera, the rising Moon from the opposite part of the sky is compared with the planetary conjunction for scale in the digitally composited image. The full lunar disk covers an angle of about 1/2 degree on the sky. Visible as well in binoculars and small telescopes are Venus' crescent and Jupiter's four Galilean moons. Of course, Venus and Jupiter are still close.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 July 1 - Venus, Jupiter, and Noctilucent Clouds
Explanation: Have you seen the passing planets yet? Today the planets Jupiter and Venus pass within half a degree of each other as seen from Earth. This conjunction, visible all over the world, is quite easy to see -- just look to the west shortly after sunset. The brightest objects visible above the horizon will be Venus and Jupiter, with Venus being the brighter of the two. Featured above, the closing planets were captured two nights ago in a sunset sky graced also by high-level noctilucent clouds. In the foreground, the astrophotographer's sister takes in the vista from a bank of the Sec Reservoir in the Czech Republic. She reported this as the first time she has seen noctilucent clouds. Jupiter and Venus will appear even closer together tonight and will continue to be visible in the same part of the sky until mid-August.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 June 24 - Triple Conjunction Over Galician National Park
Explanation: What are those bright objects hovering over the horizon? Planets -- and the Moon. First out, the horizon featured is a shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean that occurs at the Galicia National Park in northern Spain. Next furthest out, on the left, is the Moon. Easily the brightest object on the night sky, the Moon here was in only a crescent phase. The next furthest out, on the right, is the planet Venus, while planet Jupiter is seen at the top of the triangle. The long exposure from our rapidly rotating Earth made all of celestial objects -- including the far distant stars -- appear as slight arcs. The featured image was taken last Sunday night. Although the Moon's orbit has now taken it away from this part of the sky, the planets Venus and Jupiter can be seen superposed just after sunset until mid-August. The closest apparent separation of Venus and Jupiter will occur in one week, when the two planets will appear separated by less than the angular diameter of the Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 April 11 - Venus in the West
Explanation: In the coming days, Venus shines near the western horizon at sunset. To find Earth's sister planet in twilight skies just look for the brilliant evening star. Tonight very close to the Pleiades star cluster, Venus dominates this springtime night skyscape taken only a few days ago near the town of Lich in central Germany. Also known as the Seven Sisters, the stars of the compact Pleiades cluster appear above Venus in this picture. The budding tree branches to its left frame bright star Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull, and the V-shaped Hyades star cluster.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 March 2 - Lenticular Cloud, Moon, Mars, Venus
Explanation: It is not every day that such an interesting cloud photobombs your image. The original plan was to photograph a rare angular conjunction of Mars and Venus that occurred a week and a half ago, with the added bonus of a crescent Moon and the International Space Station (ISS) both passing nearby. Unfortunately, on Madeira Island, Portugal, this event was clouded out. During the next day, however, a spectacular lenticular cloud appeared before sunset, so the industrious astrophotographer quickly formulated a new plan. A close look at the resulting image reveals the Moon visible toward the left of the frame, while underneath, near the bottom, are the famous planets with Venus being the brighter. It was the unexpected lenticular cloud, though, perhaps looking like some sort of futuristic spaceship, that stole the show. The setting Sun illuminated the stationary cloud (and everything else) from the bottom, setting up an intricate pattern of shadows, layers, and brightly illuminated regions, all seen evolving in a corresponding video. Mars and Venus will next appear this close on the sky in late August, but whether any place on Earth will catch them behind such a photogenic cloud is unknown.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 February 28 - Moon-Venus-Mars Skyline
Explanation: Taken on February 20, five different exposures made in rapid succession were used to created this tantalizing telephoto image. In combination, they reveal a wide range of brightness visible to the eye on that frigid evening, from the urban glow of the Quebec City skyline to the triple conjunction of Moon, Venus and Mars. Shortly after sunset the young Moon shows off its bright crescent next to brilliant Venus. Fainter Mars is near the top of the frame. Though details in the Moon's sunlit crescent are washed out, features on the dark, shadowed part of the lunar disk are remarkably clear. Still lacking city lights the lunar night is illuminated solely by earthshine, light reflected from the sunlit side of planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 February 26 - Love and War by Moonlight
Explanation: Venus, named for the Roman goddess of love, and Mars, the war god's namesake, came together by moonlight in this lovely skyview, recorded on February 20 from Charleston, South Carolina, USA, planet Earth. Made in twilight with a digital camera, the three second time exposure also records earthshine illuminating the otherwise dark surface of the young crescent Moon. Of course, the Moon has moved on from this much anticipated triple conjunction. Venus still shines in the west though as the evening star, third brightest object in Earth's sky, after the Sun and the Moon itself. Seen here within almost a Moon's width of Venus, much fainter Mars approached even closer on the following evening. But Mars has since been moving slowly away from brilliant Venus, though Mars is still visible too in the western twilight.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 February 20 - An Evening Sky Conjunction
Explanation: Eight years ago, an evening sky held this lovely pairing of a young crescent Moon and brilliant Venus. Seen near the western horizon, the close conjunction and its wintry reflection were captured from Bolu, Turkey, planet Earth on February 19, 2007. In the 8 Earth years since this photograph was taken Venus has orbited the Sun almost exactly 13 times, so the Sun and Venus have now returned to the same the configuration in Earth's sky. And since every 8 years the Moon also nearly repeats its phases for a given time of year, a very similar crescent Moon-Venus conjunction will again appear in planet Earth's evening skies tonight. But the February 20, 2015 version of the conjunction will also include planet Mars. Much fainter Mars will wander even closer to Venus by the evening of February 21.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 January 15 - Venus and Mercury at Sunset
Explanation: Inner planets Venus and Mercury can never wander far from the Sun in Earth's sky. This week you've probably seen them both gathered near the western horizon just after sunset, a close conjunction of bright celestial beacons in the fading twilight. The pair are framed in this early evening skyview captured on January 13 from the ruins of Szarvasko Castle in northwestern Hungary. Above the silhouette of the landscape's prominent volcanic hill Venus is much the brighter, separated from Mercury by little more than the width of two Full Moons. On Friday, planet Earth's early morning risers will also be treated to a close conjunction, when Saturn meets an old crescent Moon near the southeastern horizon at dawn.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 August 21 - Venus and Jupiter at Dawn
Explanation: On Monday morning, Venus and Jupiter gathered close in dawn skies, for some separated by about half the width of a full moon. It was their closest conjunction since 2000, captured here above the eastern horizon before sunrise. The serene and colorful view is from Istia beach near the city of Capoliveri on the island of Elba. Distant lights and rolling hills are along Italy's Tuscan coast. Of course, the celestial pair soon wandered apart. Brighter Venus headed lower, toward the eastern horizon and the glare of the Sun, while Jupiter continues to rise a little higher now in the sky near dawn. The two brightest planets meet again next June 30th, in the evening twilight above the western horizon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 August 17 - Jupiter and Venus from Earth
Explanation: It was visible around the world. The sunset conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2012 was visible almost no matter where you lived on Earth. Anyone on the planet with a clear western horizon at sunset could see them. Pictured above in 2012, a creative photographer traveled away from the town lights of Szubin, Poland to image a near closest approach of the two planets. The bright planets were separated only by three degrees and his daughter striking a humorous pose. A faint red sunset still glowed in the background. Early tomorrow (Monday) morning, the two planets will pass even closer -- only 0.2 degrees apart as visible from some locations -- just before sunrise.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 January 4 - Clouds and Crescents
Explanation: A crescent Venus shines along the western horizon at dusk in this clearing sky. The Earth's sister planet is smiling between the low clouds near the bottom of the frame during its January 2nd conjunction with the slender, young crescent Moon above. Of course the lovely pairing of Moon and Venus crescents could be enjoyed in the new year's skies around the the world. But the twin contrails in this scene belong to an aircraft above Appenzell, Switzerland. Soon to disappear from evening skies, Venus is heading toward its January 11th inferior conjunction and an appearance in predawn skies as planet Earth's morning star by late January. And the Moon will be young again, too.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 January 1 - A New Year's Crescent
Explanation: That's not the young crescent Moon poised above the western horizon at sunset. Instead it's Venus in a crescent phase, captured with a long telephoto lens from Quebec City, Canada, planet Earth on a chilly December 30th evening. The very bright celestial beacon is dropping lower into the evening twilight every day. But it also grows larger in apparent size and becomes a steadily thinner crescent in binocular views as it heads toward an inferior conjunction, positioned between the Earth and the Sun on January 11. The next few evenings will see a young crescent Moon join the crescent Venus in the western twilight, though. Historically, the first observations of the phases of Venus were made by Galileo with his telescope in 1610, evidence consistent with the Copernican model of the Solar System, but not the Ptolemaic system.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 October 18 - Venus, Zodiacal Light, and the Galactic Center
Explanation: The bulging center of our Milky Way Galaxy rests on a pillar of light in this luminous skyscape. Recorded on September 22nd in dark South African skies, rivers of dust seem to flow downward from the galactic center towards Antares, yellowish alpha star of the constellation Scorpius, near the top of the scene. The brightest celestial beacon present is not a star at all though, but planet Venus, still dominant in the western sky after sunset. Of course, the pillar of light stretching upward from the horizon is Zodiacal light. Sunlight scattered by dust along the plane of the ecliptic creates the zodiacal glow, prominent in the evening after twilight during the southern hemisphere spring.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 September 19 - Moon, Venus, and Planet Earth
Explanation: In this engaging scene from planet Earth, the Moon shines through cloudy skies following sunset on the evening of September 8. Despite the fading light, the camera's long exposure still recorded a colorful, detailed view of a shoreline and western horizon looking toward the island San Gabriel from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Lights from Buenos Aires, Argentina are along the horizon on the left, across the broad Rio de la Plata estuary. The long exposure strongly overexposed the Moon and sky around it, though. So the photographer quickly snapped a shorter one to merge with the first image in the area around the bright lunar disk. As the the second image was made with a telephoto setting, the digital merger captures both Earth and sky, exaggerating the young Moon's slender crescent shape in relation to the two nearby bright stars. The more distant is bluish Spica, alpha star of the constellation Virgo. Closest to the Moon is Earth's evening star, planet Venus, emerging from a lunar occultation.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 September 13 - Crescent Moon Meets Evening Star
Explanation: On September 8, brilliant planet Venus appearing as the evening star stood near a slender, crescent Moon at sunset. The close celestial pairing or conjunction was a scene enjoyed by skygazers around the world. But from some locations in South America, the Moon actually passed in front of Venus in a lunar occultation. Captured near Las Cañas, Uruguay, this two frame mosaic telescopic view shows the Moon and Venus before and after the occultation. The silvery evening star appears at right just before it winked out behind the dark lunar limb, still in bright twilight skies. About an hour later Venus emerged (left) along the three day old Moon's sunlit edge.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 August 20 - Venus and the Triply Ultraviolet Sun
Explanation: An unusual type of solar eclipse occurred last year. Usually it is the Earth's Moon that eclipses the Sun. Last June, most unusually, the planet Venus took a turn. Like a solar eclipse by the Moon, the phase of Venus became a continually thinner crescent as Venus became increasingly better aligned with the Sun. Eventually the alignment became perfect and the phase of Venus dropped to zero. The dark spot of Venus crossed our parent star. The situation could technically be labeled a Venusian annular eclipse with an extraordinarily large ring of fire. Pictured above during the occultation, the Sun was imaged in three colors of ultraviolet light by the Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, with the dark region toward the right corresponding to a coronal hole. Hours later, as Venus continued in its orbit, a slight crescent phase appeared again. The next Venusian solar eclipse will occur in 2117.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 June 23 - Venus' Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look across Venus with radar eyes, what might you see? This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft.   Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above.   Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 June 13 - Four Planet Sunset
Explanation: You can see four planets in this serene sunset image, created from a series of stacked digital exposures captured near dusk on May 25. The composite picture follows the trail of three of them, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury (left to right) dropping toward the western horizon, gathered close in last month's remarkable triple planetary conjunction. Similar in brightness to planet Mercury, the star Elnath (Beta Tauri) is also tracked across the scene, leaving its dotted trail still farther to the right. Of course, in the foreground are the still, shallow waters of Alikes salt lake, reflecting the striking colors of sunset over Kos Island, Greece, planet Earth. For now, Jupiter has wandered into the glare of the setting Sun, but Mercury and Venus remain low in the west at twilight.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 May 12 - Clouds, Birds, Moon, Venus
Explanation: Sometimes the sky above can become quite a show. In early September of 2010, for example, the Moon and Venus converged, creating quite a sight by itself for sky enthusiasts around the globe.   From some locations, though, the sky was even more picturesque. In the above image taken in Spain, a crescent Moon and the planet Venus, on the far right, were captured during sunset posing against a deep blue sky.   In the foreground, dark storm clouds loom across the image bottom, while a white anvil cloud shape appears above. Black specks dot the frame, caused by a flock of birds taking flight. Very soon after this picture was taken, however, the birds passed by, the storm ended, and Venus and the Moon set.   Bright Venus again becomes visible just after sunset this 2013 May and will appear near Jupiter toward the end of the month.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 20 - Venus Transits the Midnight Sun
Explanation: Today's solstice, the astronomical beginning of summer in the north, is at 23:09 UT when the Sun reaches the northernmost declination in its yearly trek through planet Earth's sky. While most in the northern hemisphere will experience the longest day of the year, for some the Sun won't set at all, still standing just above the horizon at midnight as far south as about 66.6 degrees northern latitude. Of course, as summer comes to the north the midnight Sun comes earlier to higher latitudes. Recorded near midnight, this time series from June 6 follows the Sun gliding above a mountainous horizon from a latitude of 69 degrees north. The remarkable scene looks north over the Norwegian Sea from Sortland, Norway. The 2012 transit of Venus is already in progress, with Earth's sister planet in silhouette at the upper left against the bright disk of the midnight Sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 13 - A Venus Transit Over the Baltic Sea
Explanation: Waiting years and traveling kilometers -- all to get a shot like this. And even with all of this planning, a good bit of luck was helpful. As the Sun rose over the Baltic Sea last Wednesday as seen from Fehmarn Island in northern Germany, photographer Jens Hackmann was ready for the very unusual black dot of Venus to appear superimposed. Less expected were the textures of clouds and haze that would tint different levels of the Sun various shades of red. And possibly the luckiest gift of all was a flicker of a rare green flash at the very top of the Sun. The above image is, of course, just one of many spectacular pictures taken last week of the last transit of the planet Venus across the face of the Sun for the next 105 years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 11 - A Venus Transit Music Video from SDO
Explanation: What's that black dot moving across the Sun? Venus. Possibly the clearest view of Venus crossing in front of the Sun last week was from Earth orbit. The Solar Dynamics Observatory obtained an uninterrupted vista recording it not only in optical light but also in bands of ultraviolet light. Pictured above is a composite movie of the crossing set to music. Although the event might prove successful scientifically for better determining components of Venus' atmosphere, the event surely proved successful culturally by involving people throughout the world in observing a rare astronomical phenomenon. Many spectacular images of this Venus transit from around (and above) the globe are being proudly displayed.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 9 - Venus at the Edge
Explanation: As its June 6 2012 transit begins Earth's sister planet crosses the edge of the Sun in this stunning view from the Hinode spacecraft. The timing of limb crossings during the rare transits was used historically to triangulate the distance to Venus and determine a value for the Earth-Sun distance called the astronomical unit. Still, modern space-based views like this one show the event against an evocative backdrop of the turbulent solar surface with prominences lofted above the Sun's edge by twisting magnetic fields. Remarkably, the thin ring of light seen surrounding the planet's dark silhouette is sunlight refracted by Venus' thick atmosphere.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 8 - When Venus Rises with the Sun
Explanation: This dramatic telephoto view across the Black Sea on June 6 finds Venus rising with the Sun, the planet in silhouette against a ruddy and ragged solar disk. Of course, the reddened light is due to scattering in planet Earth's atmosphere and the rare transit of Venus didn't influence the strangely shaped and distorted Sun. In fact, seeing the Sun in the shape of an Etruscan Vase is relatively common, especially compared to Venus transits. At sunset and sunrise, the effects of atmospheric refraction enhanced by long, low, sight lines and strong atmospheric temperature gradients produce the visual distortions and mirages. That situation is often favored by a sea horizon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 7 - Venus Transit 2012
Explanation: Occurring in pairs separated by over a hundred years, there have now been only eight transits of Venus since the invention of the telescope in 1608. The next will be in December of 2117. But many modern telescopes and cameras were trained on this week's Venus transit, capturing the planet in rare silhouette against the Sun. In this sharp telescopic view from Georgia, USA, a narrowband H-alpha filter was used to show the round planetary disk against a mottled solar surface with dark filaments, sunspots, and prominences. The transit itself lasted for 6 hours and 40 minutes. Historically, astronomers used timings of the transit from different locations to triangulate the distance to Venus, while modern astronomers actively search for planets that transit distant suns.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 5 - Live: Watching for Venus to Cross the Sun
Explanation: Today Venus moves in front of the Sun. One way to follow this rare event is to actively reload the above live image of the Sun during the right time interval and look for an unusual circular dark dot. The smaller sprawling dark areas are sunspots. The circular dot is the planet Venus. The dark dot will only appear during a few very specific hours, from about 22:10 on 2012 June 5 through 4:50 2012 June 6, Universal Time. This transit is the rarest type of solar eclipse known -- much more rare than an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon or even by the planet Mercury. In fact, the next transit of Venus across the Sun will be in 2117. Anyone with a clear view of the Sun can go outside and carefully view the transit for themselves by projecting sunlight through a hole in a card onto a wall. Because this Venus transit is so unusual and visible from so much of the Earth, it is expected to be one of the more photographed celestial events in history. The above live image on the Sun is being taken by the Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory and can be updated about every 15 minutes. Editor's note: Since the transit has ended, the live image was replaced by one taken just before Venus crossed out of Sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 3 - A Picturesque Venus Transit
Explanation: The rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in 2004 was one of the better-photographed events in sky history. Both scientific and artistic images flooded in from the areas that could see the transit: Europe and much of Asia, Africa, and North America. Scientifically, solar photographers confirmed that the black drop effect is really better related to the viewing clarity of the camera or telescope than the atmosphere of Venus. Artistically, images might be divided into several categories. One type captures the transit in front of a highly detailed Sun. Another category captures a double coincidence such as both Venus and an airplane simultaneously silhouetted, or Venus and the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. A third image type involves a fortuitous arrangement of interesting looking clouds, as shown by example in the above image taken from North Carolina, USA. Sky enthusiasts worldwide are abuzz about the coming transit of Venus on Tuesday. It is perhaps interesting to wonder whether any person will live to see -- and remember seeing -- both Tuesday's Venus transit and the next one in 2117.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 April 6 - Venus and the Sisters
Explanation: After wandering about as far from the Sun on the sky as Venus can get, the brilliant evening star crossed paths with the Pleiades star cluster earlier this week. The beautiful conjunction was enjoyed by skygazers around the world. Taken on April 2, this celestial group photo captures the view from Portal, Arizona, USA. Also known as the Seven Sisters, even the brighter naked-eye Pleiades stars are seen to be much fainter than Venus. And while Venus and the sisters do look star-crossed, their spiky appearance is the diffraction pattern caused by multiple leaves in the aperture of the telephoto lens. The last similar conjunction of Venus and Pleiades occurred nearly 8 years ago. As it did then, Venus will again move on to cross paths with the disk of the Sun in June.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 March 28 - Earthshine and Venus Over Sierra de Guadarrama
Explanation: What just above that ridge? The Moon. Specifically, the Earth's Moon was caught just above the horizon in a young crescent phase. The familiar Moon might look a bit odd as the exposure shows significant Earthshine -- the illumination of the part of the Moon hidden from direct sunlight by the sun-reflecting Earth. Also captured in the image is the bright planet Venus on the right. Venus and Jupiter passed only three degrees from each other last week during a photogenic planetary conjunction. The above image was taken two days ago near Madrid, Spain. The foreground horizon silhouette includes some of the Seven Peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. Just a few minutes after this picture was taken, the Moon set.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 March 18 - Jupiter and Venus from Earth
Explanation: It was visible around the world. The sunset conjunction of Jupiter and Venus was visible last week almost no matter where you lived on Earth. Anyone on the planet with a clear western horizon at sunset could see them. This week the two are still notable, even though Jupiter has sunk below the brighter Venus. And if you look higher in the sky you can see Mars as well. Pictured above, a creative photographer traveled away from the town lights of Szubin, Poland to image a near closest approach of the two planets almost a week ago. The bright planets were separated only by three degrees and his daughter striking a humorous pose. A faint red sunset still glowed in the background. Although this conjunction is drawing to a close, another conjunction between Venus and Jupiter will occur next May.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 March 7 - Conjunction Over Reunion Island
Explanation: You don't have to be on Reunion Island to see this week's planetary conjunction. Only if you want to see this picturesque seascape as well. To see the conjunction from just about anywhere in the world, look to the west after sunset. The first planet you may notice is Venus, the brightest object in the western sky. Above Venus, the second brightest object is Jupiter. The hardest planet to spot is Mercury, which is visible only briefly after sunset as a faint dot just above the horizon. Picturesque rocks leading out from Reunion Island to the Indian Ocean populate the foreground of the above picture. Taken last week, the distant planets Venus and Jupiter were joined by a bright crescent Moon, which has now moved away.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 March 1 - Multicolor Venus
Explanation: Brilliant Venus now shines in western skies at twilight. Seen as the prominent evening star, the planet is a tantalizing celestial beacon even for casual skygazers. Venus can offer less than satisfying telescopic views though. The planet is shrouded in reflective clouds that appear bright but featureless at the eyepiece. Still, careful imaging with a series of color filters, as used in these composite images, can reveal subtle cloud patterns. Captured early last month from a backyard observatory in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, the images are based on video camera frames. The data was recorded through near-ultraviolet, green, and near-infrared filters (left), and red, green, and blue filters while Venus stood high above the western horizon just before sunset. This season's evening apparition of Venus is the best one for northern hemisphere observers in 7 years. It will ultimately end with a solar transit of the planet, the last one to occur in your lifetime, on June 5/6.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 February 29 - Moon and Planets Over Catalonia
Explanation: Venus and Jupiter will appear unusually close in the sky over the next month. The planetary conjunction will be easily visible to the unaided eye because Venus will appear brighter than any background star, and Jupiter will be nearly as bright. To see the near-alignment, simply look to the west after sunset. At their closest, on March 15, the two planets will appear only about three degrees apart. The planets will not be significantly closer in space - Venus will just be passing nearly in front of Jupiter as seen from the Earth. In the above image composite taken late last week from Catalonia, Spain, a bright crescent moon appears to the right of Venus, while Jupiter appears near the top of the image. The distant sun-illuminated spheres were photographed behind a sculpture depicting the legendary battle between a warrior and a dragon. A gallery of conjunction images is visible on the Asterisk -- APOD's discussion board. Please feel free to contribute. The next Jupiter-Venus conjunction will occur in May 2013.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 February 23 - A Zodiacal Skyscape
Explanation: Venus and Jupiter are this month's two brightest planets. Shortly after sunset on February 20, they dominate the sky above the western horizon and this snowy landscape. In clear and transparent skies over Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania, USA, they are also seen immersed in Zodiacal light. The extended, diffuse, triangular glow is sunlight scattered by dust along the plane of the ecliptic. Brighter near the horizon, the Zodiacal glow angles upward, first to Venus and then to Jupiter hugging the ecliptic as they orbit the Sun. Fading even further, the glow stretches toward the lovely Pleides star cluster near the top of the frame. Following their appearance in this Zodiacal skyscape, the coming days will see Venus and Jupiter sharing the early evening sky with a young crescent Moon. The two bright planets are even headed for a close pairing or conjunction, separated by about 3 degrees on March 13.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 February 13 - An Unusual Venusian Oval
Explanation: Why would Venus appear oval? Venus has been seen countless times from the surface of the Earth, and every time the Earth's atmosphere has dispersed its light to some degree. When the air has just the right amount of dust or water droplets, small but distant objects like Venus appear spread out into an angularly large aureole. Aureoles are not unusual to see and are frequently noted as circular coronas around the Sun or Moon. Recently, however, aureoles have been imaged that are not circular but distinctly oval. The above oval Venusian aureole was imaged by the astrophotographer who first noted the unusual phenomenon three years ago. Initially disputed, the unusual distortion has now been confirmed multiple times by several different astrophotographers. What causes the ellipticity is currently unknown, and although several hypotheses hold that horizontally oriented ice crystals are responsible, significant discussions about it are still taking place.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 February 7 - The Belt of Venus Over Mercedes Argentina
Explanation: Although you've surely seen it, you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly off-color, slightly pink or orange. Called the Belt of Venus, this off-color band between the dark eclipsed sky and the blue sky can be seen in nearly every direction including that opposite the Sun. Straight above, blue sky is normal sunlight reflecting off the atmosphere. In the Belt of Venus, however, the atmosphere reflects light from the setting (or rising) Sun which appears more red. Below the Belt of Venus, the atmosphere appears more dark because no sunlight reaches it. The Belt of Venus can be seen from any location with a clear horizon. Pictured above last month over Mercedes, Argentina, a panoramic vista featuring the Belt of Venus was digitally stitched together from 16 smaller images. The belt is frequently caught by accident in other photographs.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 December 29 - Conjunction at Sunset
Explanation: While Comet Lovejoy entertained early morning risers in the southern hemisphere, a lovely conjunction of a young crescent Moon and Venus graced western skies at sunset. Captured on December 26th the conjunction, with beautiful sunset colors above and below, is seen here over Viverone Lake near Turin, Italy. But if you've been outdoors at all lately enjoying sunsets on planet Earth, then you've probably noticed Venus low in the west as the season's brilliant evening star. Sometimes mistaken for a terrestrial light near the horizon, Venus is the third brightest celestial beacon, after the Sun and Moon. That distinction is particularly easy to appreciate in this peaceful scene.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 October 16 - A Picturesque Venus Transit
Explanation: The rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in 2004 was one of the better-photographed events in sky history. Both scientific and artistic images flooded in from the areas that could see the transit: Europe and much of Asia, Africa, and North America. Scientifically, solar photographers confirmed that the black drop effect is really better related to the viewing clarity of the camera or telescope than the atmosphere of Venus. Artistically, images might be divided into several categories. One type captures the transit in front of a highly detailed Sun. Another category captures a double coincidence such as both Venus and an airplane simultaneously silhouetted, or Venus and the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. A third image type involves a fortuitous arrangement of interesting looking clouds, as shown by example in the above image taken from North Carolina, USA. The next transit of Venus across the Sun will be in 2012 June.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 July 2 - Moon and Venus at Dawn
Explanation: Brilliant Venus and a thin crescent Moon stood together above the eastern horizon just before sunrise on June 30. The lovely celestial pairing is captured in this colorful twilight skyview overlooking a reservoir near Izmir, Turkey. For some, the close conjunction could be viewed as a daylight occultation. While Venus is nearing the end of its latest performance as planet Earth's morning star, the old lunar cresent, about 24 hours from its New Moon phase, was also bidding farewell for now to the dawn. In fact, for the next two nights a young Moon can be spotted just after sunset. Look for a thin sunlit sliver close to the western horizon, not far from bright planet Mercury.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 June 4 - Dawn's Grande Finale
Explanation: After more than a month, the lovely lineup of four naked-eye planets in dawn skies is coming to a close. Still, on May 31st a slender Moon joined the grouping along the eastern horizon for a final celestial performance, presented in this early morning scene from a beach near Buenos Aires, Argentina. A favorable view of the configuration in the southern hemisphere autumn, the photo was taken about 30 minutes before sunrise. In order from bottom to top, wandering Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are stretched along the ecliptic plane. The Moon's sunlit crescent is sinking into the colorful twilight glow just left of Mercury. In dawns to come, Mars and Jupiter will continue to rise while Venus and Mercury sink toward the horizon, drawing closer to the rising Sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 May 7 - Dawn of the Planets
Explanation: This month, four of the five naked-eye planets gather along the eastern horizon near dawn. The celestial grouping is seen here just before sunrise on May 5, from a beach near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Starting near the top of the frame, the brightest beacon is Venus. Mercury is below and right of Venus and brilliant Jupiter is lower still, near image center. Below Jupiter, Mars is relatively faint and struggles the most to shine through a thin cloud bank and the warming twilight glow. Watch, and as the month progresses the tantalizing configuration will change, with Mars and Jupiter moving higher while Venus and Mercury wander through the sky closer to the rising sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 February 2 - Moon and Venus over Switzerland
Explanation: Sometimes a morning sky can be a combination of serene and surreal. Such a sky perhaps existed before sunrise this past Sunday as viewed from a snowy slope in eastern Switzerland. Quiet clouds blanket the above scene, lit from beneath by lights from the village of Trübbach. A snow covered mountain, Mittlerspitz, poses dramatically on the upper left, hovering over the small town of Balzers, Liechtenstein far below. Peaks from the Alps can be seen across the far right, just below the freshly rising Sun. Visible on the upper right are the crescent Moon and the bright planet Venus. Venus will remain in the morning sky all month, although it will likely not be found in such a photogenic setting.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 November 11 - Two Views, Two Crescents
Explanation: Venus rose in a glowing dawn sky on November 5th, just before the Sun. For early morning risers, its brilliant crescent phase was best appreciated with binoculars or a small telescope. On that day the crescent Venus also appeared in close conjunction with another lovely crescent that hugs the eastern horizon in planet Earth's morning skies, the waning crescent Moon. The celestial photo-op is captured here from two locations. Left, separated by less than a degree, the two crescents hover above a sea of clouds. The picture was recorded from an Alpine mountain pass not far from Turin, Italy. On the right is a sharp telephoto view taken before an earlier sunrise, farther east in the Alborz Mountains of Iran. In steady skies the slender Moon is still sliding toward Venus, the bright planet's compact crescent just clearing the mountainous horizon. For now, the crescent phase of Venus remains easy to enjoy with binoculars in November's dawn skies. The first observations of the phases of Venus, made by Galileo with his telescope in 1610, agreed with the predictions of the heliocentric Copernican model of the Solar System.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 October 20 - Venus Just After Sunset
Explanation: Is that Venus or an airplane? A common ponderable for sky enthusiasts is deciding if that bright spot near the horizon is the planet Venus. Usually, an airplane will show itself by moving significantly in a few moments. Venus will set only slowly as the Earth turns. Still, the identification would be easier if Venus did not keep shifting its position each night. Pictured above, Venus was captured on 44 different nights during 2006 and 2007 over the Bolu mountains in Turkey, when Earth's sister planet appeared exclusively in the evening sky. The average spacing of the images was about five days, while the images were always taken with the Sun about seven degrees below the horizon. That bright spot toward the west in your evening sky this month might be neither Venus nor an airplane, but Mars.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 September 28 - Venus South Polar Vortex
Explanation: What's happening over the South Pole of Venus? To find out, scientists have been studying images taken by the robotic Venus Express spacecraft when it passes over the lower spin axis of Earth's overheated twin. Surprisingly, recent images from Venus Express do not confirm previous sightings of a double storm system there, but rather found a single unusual swirling cloud vortex. In the above recently released image sequence taken in infrared light and digitally compressed, darker areas correspond to higher temperatures and hence lower regions of Venus' atmosphere. Also illuminating are recently released movies, which show similarities between Venus' southern vortex and the vortex that swirls over the South Pole of Saturn. Understanding the peculiar dynamics of why, at times, two eddies appear, while at other times a single peculiar eddy appears, may give insight into how hurricanes evolve on Earth, and remain a topic of research for some time. In three months, the European Venus Express spacecraft will be joined around Venus by the Japanese Akatsuki satellite.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 September 15 - Clouds, Birds, Moon, Venus
Explanation: Sometimes the sky above can become quite a show. Last week, for example, the Moon and Venus converged, creating quite a sight by itself for sky enthusiasts around the globe. From some locations, though, the sky was even more picturesque. In the above image taken last week from Spain, a crescent Moon and the planet Venus, on the far right, were captured during sunset posing against a deep blue sky. In the foreground, dark storm clouds loom across the image bottom, while a white anvil cloud shape appears above. Black specks dot the frame, caused by a flock of birds taking flight. Very soon after this picture was taken, however, the birds passed by, the storm ended, and Venus and the Moon set. The Moon and Venus have now separated, although Venus will remain visible at sunset for the rest of this month.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 August 27 - Brighter Than Mars
Explanation: Even though you may have just read an email claiming Mars will be incredibly bright tonight, the brightest star on the horizon is not Mars. From central Iran on August 24th, the brightest star in this twilight desert skyview is Venus, aka the Evening Star. But a bright Mars is in the picture, just above and right of more brilliant Venus. Despite claims in the internet's annually returning Mars Hoax that Mars will be as big and bright as the Full Moon, this celestial scenario is very similar to the western sky you can see tonight. Along with Mars, the still beautiful vista includes Spica, alpha star of the constellation Virgo, above and left of Venus. Farther right of Venus, Saturn peeks through the sunset's fading glow just above the clouds. Near the opposite horizon, the Full Moon illuminating the desert is about 400,000 times brighter than Mars.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 August 1 - Venus Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look across Venus with radar eyes, what might you see? This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft. Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above. Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 May 21 - Calm, Crescent Moon, and Venus
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.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 May 16 - Crescent Venus and Moon
Explanation: There's something behind these clouds. Those faint graceful arcs, upon inspection, are actually far, far in the distance. They are the Earth's Moon and the planet Venus. Both the Moon and Venus are bright enough to be seen during the day, and both are quite capable of showing a crescent phase. To see Venus, which appears quite small, in a crescent phase requires binoculars or a telescope. In the above dramatic daytime image taken from Budapest, Hungary in 2004, the Moon and Venus shared a similar crescent phase a few minutes before the Moon eclipsed the larger but more distant world. Similarly, visible today in parts of Africa and Asia, a crescent Moon will again eclipse Venus during the day. About an hour after the above image was taken, Venus reappeared.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 April 22 - Venus, Mercury, and Moon
Explanation: Earlier this month, Venus and Mercury climbed into the western twilight, entertaining skygazers around planet Earth in a lovely conjunction of evening stars. Combining 8 images spanning April 4 through April 15, this composite tracks their progress through skies above Portsmouth, UK. Each individual image was captured at 19:50 UT. The sequential path for both bright planets begins low and to the left. But while Venus continues to swing away from the setting Sun, moving higher above the western horizon, Mercury first rises then falls. Its highest point is from the image taken on April 11. Of course on April 15, Venus and Mercury were joined by a young crescent Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 April 12 - Mercury and Venus Over Paris
Explanation: Go outside tonight and see one of the more interesting planetary conjunctions of recent years. Just after sunset, the planets Mercury and Venus are visible quite near each other. Now Venus, being commonly discernible as one of the brightest objects in the sky, is frequently mistaken for an airplane. (Venus will set quite slowly, though.) Mercury, however, is dimmer and usually harder to find. Recently, though, Mercury can be found just to the right of Venus, appearing increasingly below the brighter planet over the next week. Pictured above, Venus and Mercury were imaged next to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. A careful inspection of the image will further reveal that the bright object nearly below Venus is iconic Eiffel Tower.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 April 7 - Venus and Mercury in the West
Explanation: In this twilight skyview, a windmill stands in silent witness to a lovely pairing of planets in the west. The picture was recorded on April 5 from Gallegos del Campo, Zamora, Spain. Venus (left) and Mercury (right) are near their much anticipated conjunction in the early evening sky. But even in the coming days, these two evening stars will remain close in the western sky at sunset. In fact, with brighter Venus as a marker, sky watchers will have an excellent guide for spotting Mercury nearby, a planet often hidden in the Sun's glare.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 April 4 - The Belt of Venus over the Valley of the Moon
Explanation: Although you've surely seen it, you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly off-color, slightly pink. Called the Belt of Venus, this off-color band between the dark eclipsed sky and the blue sky can be seen in nearly every direction including that opposite the Sun. Straight above, blue sky is normal sunlight reflecting off the atmosphere. In the Belt of Venus, however, the atmosphere reflects light from the setting (or rising) Sun which appears more red. The Belt of Venus can be seen from any location with a clear horizon. Pictured above, the Belt of Venus was photographed above morning fog in the Valley of the Moon, a famous wine-producing region in northern California, USA. The belt is frequently caught by accident in other photographs.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 24 - Moon and Morning Star
Explanation: Wednesday, the Moon and Venus rose together in early morning skies. Even through clouds, both show off a lovely crescent in this well-composed skyscape from Rutherford College, North Carolina, in the eastern US. Farther west, North American skygazers could also witness the Moon passing in front of Venus. The bright planet disappeared behind the Moon's sunlit crescent and reappeared along its darkened limb as morning twilight gave way to daylight hours. Of course the dimmer lunar crescent was waning, approaching today's New Moon phase. Beginning a stint as the brilliant Morning Star, Venus' crescent is waxing though, and will grow thicker in the coming months as Venus rises higher in morning skies.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 9 - Venus Near Inferior Conjunction
Explanation: This remarkable picture of a slender crescent Venus was made during daylight hours on March 26. Venus was then very near inferior conjunction, its closest approach to a point on a line directly between Earth and the Sun. So, daylight was a good time to carefully record the telescopic view when both Venus and Sun were high in the daytime sky. Near inferior conjunction, Venus is closest to us and at its largest apparent size, but Venus is also strongly backlit by sunlight, presenting its night side partially outlined by a narrow crescent. What makes the image remarkable are the faint arcs extending beyond the sunlit crescent around to the night side of Venus, due to sunlight filtering through the planet's dense atmosphere. Astronomer Eddie Guscott reports from his site in Essex, England that the faint extensions came and went as the Earth's atmospheric blurring changed. His image was constructed from 85 of the sharpest frames chosen from thousands taken with a webcam and telescope.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 March 6 - Crescent Moon and Venus
Explanation: Last Friday, the Moon and Venus shared the early evening sky in a beautiful conjunction. Separated by only about 2 degrees, they also were both in a crescent phase. Just like our Moon, Venus can appear as a full disk or a thin crescent. Frequently the brightest object in the post-sunset or pre-sunrise sky, Venus is so small that it usually requires binoculars or a small telescope to clearly see its phase. This telescopic image of Friday's conjunction shows off the similar crescent phases, with the tiny crescent Venus at the upper right.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 6 - Lunar Diamond
Explanation: Cameras around the globe pointed skyward this week to capture the spectacular conjunction of a crescent Moon and bright planets Venus and Jupiter. But astronomer-artist Deirdre Kelleghan recorded her observations in sketches of the celestial event. From Greystones, County Wicklow, Ireland, her small telescope allowed her to follow the accompanying lunar occultation as a brilliant Venus disappeared behind the Moon's dark edge, then reappeared along the bright lunar limb. Her lovely drawing of the reemergence of Venus was made with pastels and conte crayons on A3 size paper under very cold conditions. She remarks, "The view as Venus once again sparkled like a diamond stuck on the moon was stunning."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 5 - Smile in the Sky
Explanation: At sunset, Monday's western sky showed off stunning colors and dramatic clouds reflected in Brisbane Water on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It also featured the remarkable conjunction of the crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter forming a twilight smiley face. While the gathering of the two bright planets and Moon awed skygazers around planet Earth, astronomer Mike Salway reports taking special pains to record this gorgeous view, braving mosquitos and rain squalls along a soggy shore. His southern hemisphere perspective finds brilliant Venus at the highest point in the celestial grouping. For now, a bright pairing of Venus and Jupiter continues to dominate the western horizon after sunset but the Moon has moved on and tonight is near its first quarter phase.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 4 - Venus in the Moon
Explanation: On December 1, bright planets Venus and Jupiter gathered near the young crescent Moon, an inspiring celestial scene in early evening skies around the world. But from some locations the Moon actually passed in front of Venus, interrupting the tight grouping with a lunar occultation. Captured from Wildon, Austria, this twilight view shows the silvery evening star about five minutes before it slipped behind the dark lunar limb and vanished from sight for more than hour. The image is a combination of long and short exposures showing details of the lunar surface illuminated by both faint earthshine and bright sunlight. In the inset, recorded later in darkened skies over Breil-sur-Roya in southeastern France, a dazzling Venus has reappeared below the bright lunar crescent. Of course, Jupiter, at the upper right about 2 degrees from Venus and Moon, is sporting moons of its own seen as tiny pinpricks of light on either side of the bright planet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 3 - A Happy Sky Over Los Angeles
Explanation: Sunday, the sky seemed to smile over much of planet Earth. Visible the world over was an unusual superposition of our Moon and the planets Venus and Jupiter. Pictures taken at the right time show a crescent Moon that appears to be a smile when paired with the planetary conjunction of seemingly nearby Jupiter and Venus. Pictured above is the scene as it appeared from Mt. Wilson Observatory overlooking Los Angeles, California, USA after sunset on 2008 November 30. Highest in the sky and farthest in the distance is the planet Jupiter. Significantly closer and visible to Jupiter's lower left is Venus, appearing through Earth's atmospheric clouds as unusually blue. On the far right, above the horizon, is our Moon, in a waxing crescent phase. Thin clouds illuminated by the Moon appear unusually orange. Sprawling across the bottom of the image are the hills of Los Angeles, many covered by a thin haze, while LA skyscrapers are visible on the far left. The conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will continue to be visible toward the west after sunset during much of this month. Hours after the taking of this image, however, the Moon approached the distant duo, briefly eclipsed Venus, and then moved on.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 November 29 - Chilean Skyscape
Explanation: Night skies over Chilean mountain top observatories can be dark and clear, with glorious cosmic vistas. In this recent example, the plane of our Milky Way galaxy stretches parallel to the horizon, the galactic center's star clusters, dark dust clouds, and glowing nebulae hovering in the west. Recorded after sunset, the wedge of light extending upward through the scene is Zodiacal light, sunlight scattered by dust along the solar system's ecliptic plane. A faint meteor was also caught in the view, but approaching a conjunction, brilliant Venus and bright Jupiter dominate the skyscape. A close pairing through this weekend, by Monday, December 1, they will be joined by the young crescent Moon. Look west after sunset and the tight celestial triangle formed by Moon, Venus, and Jupiter, the three brightest beacons in the night, will be a spectacular sight, even from bright-sky urban locations all over the world.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 26 - Mysterious Acid Haze on Venus
Explanation: Why did an acidic haze spread across Venus? The unusual clouds were discovered last July by ESA's robotic Venus Express spacecraft currently orbiting Venus. The bright and smooth haze was found by Venus Express to be rich in sulfuric acid, created when an unknown process lifted water vapor and sulphur dioxide from lower levels into Venus' upper atmosphere. There, sunlight broke these molecules apart and some of them recombined into the volatile sulfuric acid. Over the course of just a few days last July, the smooth acidic clouds spread from the South Pole of Venus across half the planet. The above false-color picture of Venus was taken last July 23rd in ultraviolet light, and shows the unusual haze as relatively smooth regions across the image bottom. The cause of the dark streaks in the clouds is also not yet understood and is being researched.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 2 - Venus and Jupiter in Morning Skies
Explanation: These two celestial beacons shining brightly in the east before sunrise are actually children of the Sun, the planets Venus and Jupiter. The second and third brightest objects in the sky at Night after the Moon, Venus and Jupiter appeared separated by about 2 degrees when this picture was taken on January 30th, but closed to within nearly half a degree early yesterday morning. In the serene foreground is the shoreline along the Miankaleh Peninsula and Gorgan Bay, an important bird and wildlife refuge in the southeastern Caspian Sea. Over the next two days, early morning risers around the globe will be able to enjoy a close pairing of Venus and Jupiter with an old crescent Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 November 8 - VERITAS and Venus
Explanation: Early morning risers and late to bed astronomers have recently enjoyed bright planets in predawn skies, with brilliant Venus above the eastern horizon. On November 5, Venus was joined by the waning crescent Moon. This self-portrait by astronomer Larry Ciupik captures the lovely pairing of the two brightest celestial beacons on the scene, though the Moon, right of Venus, is strongly over exposed. Included at the far left in the 30 second exposure is the bright streak of the International Space Station still docked with shuttle orbiter Discovery. Together in Earth orbit, the spacefaring combination was momentarily the third brightest sky light in view. In dim silhouette, a multi-mirrored unit of the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) is also visible in the foreground. VERITAS operates at the Whipple Observatory near Tucson, Arizona to detect high-energy gamma-rays from the cosmos.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 October 11 - Bright Planets, Crescent Moon
Explanation: Early risers are currently enjoying the sight of dazzling Venus, near the eastern horizon as the morning star. Recorded on October 7, this predawn skyview does feature Venus at the upper right. It also includes a crescent Moon and Saturn (lower left). In fact, holding your fist at arms length would have easily covered both planets and the Moon in this 5 degree wide field. Earthshine, sunlight reflected from planet Earth's dayside, illuminates features on the lunar nightside. A close inspection of Saturn itself reveals a nearby pinpoint of light corresponding to Saturn's large moon Titan. Though the Moon has moved on, the tight triangle formed by Venus, Saturn, and Regulus (top), alpha star in the constellation Leo, will continue to look impressive in early morning skies over the next few days. Early bird astrophotographer Jay Ouellet also described Mars as a "brilliant red diode" in his dark country sky east of Quebec City, Canada.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 July 18 - Planets over Pony Express Lake
Explanation: Beautiful sunset sky colors are reflected in Pony Express Lake in this twilight skyview from northern Missouri, USA, planet Earth. Recorded on Monday, a two day old crescent Moon and brilliant planet Venus shine through thin clouds. Joining the conjunction on the right of the Moon's sunlit crescent is fellow wanderer Saturn, with Regulus, alpha star of the constellation Leo, above and right of Venus. Moonlight and Venus light streak the almost-calm lake waters.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 July 4 - Red, White, and Blue Sky
Explanation: Contrasting colors in this beautiful sunset sky were captured on June 30 from Clear Creek Canyon Observatory in central Arizona, USA. The twilight scene includes brilliant Venus as the evening star, with a bright Saturn just above it, shining through thin clouds. The two wandering planets were a mere 1 degree apart or so, about twice the width of the full Moon rising above the eastern horizon on the other side of the sky. In fact, such serene skyviews were possible from all over planet Earth as Venus and Saturn approached a conjunction. Regulus, alpha star of the constellation Leo, is above and to the left of the close planetary pairing. At dusk, lights in tonight's sky will also feature Venus and Saturn low in the west and separated by about 2 degrees.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 June 20 - A Daylight Eclipse of Venus
Explanation: Something was about to happen. Just two days ago, two of the three celestial objects easily visible during the day appeared to collide. But actually, Earth's Moon passed well in front of the distant planet Venus. The occultation was caught from Switzerland in the hours before sunset. Moments after this image was taken, the Moon, visible as the crescent on the right of the above image, eclipsed Venus, appearing near half phase on the lower left. Clouds that once threatened to obscure the whole event, were visible on the far left. About 90 minutes later, Venus re-appeared just to the right of the bright crescent.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 May 23 - Venus Near the Moon
Explanation: The two brightest objects in the night sky appeared to go right past each other last week. On the night of May 19, Earth's Moon and the planet Venus were visible in the same part of the sky, and at closest approach were less than one degree apart. The conjunction was captured in the above image taken from near Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Venus appears on the lower left of the above photo. The spires that appear to emanate from Venus are diffraction spikes caused by the camera itself. The image is so clear that craters on the Moon are resolved. Of course, the real physical distance between the two heavenly bodies was not unusually small -- the apparent conjunction was really just an illusion of perspective. Although Earth's Moon passes Venus once each month, such a close passing visible in the evening sky is more rare.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 May 1 - Swirling Clouds Over the South Pole of Venus
Explanation: What's happening over the South Pole of Venus? To find out, scientists sent the robot Venus Express spacecraft now orbiting Venus directly over the lower spin axis of Earth's overheated twin. Venus Express confirmed there a spectacular massive swirling storm system with similarities to the vortex recently imaged over Saturn's South Pole. The above composite image in infrared light features Venus' daytime side on the left, shining primarily by reflected sunlight, and nighttime side on the right, shining primarily by thermal light. A Venusian polar vortex is visible as the small circular feature near the center of the thermal infrared image pictured on the right. Close inspection of other South Pole images unexpectedly showed a second vortex, meaning that the unusual swirling clouds are like an Earth-hurricane that has two eyes. Why a double vortex has formed is now a topic of research. The above image was taken last year, and more recent images from Venus Express are being processed that have as much as 100 times more detail.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 April 14 - Venus by the Lake
Explanation: Finding Venus in the night sky is not too hard these days. Now appearing as the evening star, Venus rules as the brightest celestial beacon in west just after sunset. And if you can find Venus tonight, you can also easily find the lovely Pleiades star cluster (aka M45) close by. In this serene skyview, recorded on Tuesday near Bolu, Turkey, Venus and the Pleiades are on the right, with brilliant Venus reflected in the calm waters of the small lake in the foreground. Left of Venus, the bright star Aldebaran anchors the V-shaped Hyades star cluster. Farther left are stars of the familiar constellation Orion with Rigel, at the foot of Orion, also reflected in the lake. Meanwhile, Sirius, in Canis Major, is the brightest star on the left side of the view. But the bright terrestrial light below Sirius is not a reflection, it's just a light near the lake shore.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 27 - Castle and Sky
Explanation: While Comet McNaught ruled southern skies, last week's conjunction of the Moon and Venus could be enjoyed by denizens of both hemispheres of planet Earth. The two more commonly viewed celestial beacons produced this lovely twilight scene, recorded last Saturday in skies above Almodovar near Cordoba in southern Spain. Brilliant Venus and a slender crescent Moon seem to overlook the small town, along with a well-lit Castle Almodovar. The impressive castle's construction began in the 700s on the strategic site of a Roman fort. It was extensively restored in the 20th century.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 October 30 - Crescent Venus and Moon
Explanation: There's something behind these clouds. Those faint graceful arcs, upon inspection, are actually far, far in the distance. They are the Earth's Moon and the planet Venus. Both the Moon and Venus are bright enough to be seen during the day, and both are quite capable of showing a crescent phase. To see Venus, which appears quite small, in a crescent phase requires binoculars or a telescope. In the above dramatic daytime image taken from Budapest, Hungary, the Moon and Venus shared a similar crescent phase a few minutes before the Moon eclipsed the larger but more distant world. About an hour later, Venus reappeared.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 July 23 - The Belt of Venus over the Valley of the Moon
Explanation: Although you've surely seen it, you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly off-color, slightly pink. Called the Belt of Venus, this off-color band between the dark eclipsed sky and the blue sky can be seen in nearly every direction including that opposite the Sun. Straight above, blue sky is normal sunlight reflecting off the atmosphere. In the Belt of Venus, however, the atmosphere reflects light from the setting (or rising) Sun which appears more red. The Belt of Venus can be seen from any location with a clear horizon. Pictured above, the Belt of Venus was photographed above morning fog in the Valley of the Moon, a famous wine-producing region in northern California, USA. The belt is frequently caught by accident in other photographs.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 July 17 - Venus Express Arrives at Venus
Explanation: Humanity now has a spacecraft orbiting Venus. The robotic Venus Express spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency in 2005 November arrived at Venus in 2006 April. Venus Express is now orbiting Earth's sister planet and returning pictures. Pictured above is a false-color, time-lapse movie in ultraviolet light captured by the Venus Express spacecraft as it flew over Venus' northern hemisphere in late May. Venus Express is scheduled to orbit Venus for three years and collect data that might help in answering questions that include why Venus continually generates hurricane-force winds, why Venus became so hot in the past, and if there is any current volcanic activity on Venus. It is hoped that a better understanding of Venus's hot and inhospitable climate will help humanity better understand Earth's climate as well.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 June 15 - Gordel van Venus
Explanation: Scroll right and enjoy this 180 degree panorama across the South African Astronomical Observatory's hilltop Sutherland observing station. Featured are SAAO telescope domes and buildings, along with the dark, wedge-shaped shadow of planet Earth stretching into the distance, bounded above by the delicately colored antitwilight arch. Visible along the antisunward horizon at sunset, (or sunrise) the pinkish antitwilight arch is also known as the Belt of Venus. In order, the significant structures from left to right house; the giant SALT 11-meter instrument, the internet telescope MONET, the 1.9 meter Radcliffe, the 1.0 meter Elizabeth, a 0.75 meter reflector, a 0.5 meter reflector, a garage, YSTAR, BiSON, ACT, IRSF (open), and a storage building. (Note to SAAO fans: in this east-facing view the planet-hunter SuperWASP south is hidden behind the IRSF.)

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 March 3 - Venus and Comet Pojmanski
Explanation: Shining brightly in the east at dawn, Venus dominates the sky in this view over a suburban landscape from Bursa, Turkey. An otherwise familiar scene for astronomer Tunc Tezel, his composite picture of the morning sky recorded on March 2nd also includes a surprise visitor to the inner solar system, Comet Pojmanski. Cataloged as C/2006 A1, the comet was discovered on January 2nd by Grzegorz Pojmanski of Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory in Poland. At the time very faint and tracking through southern skies, the comet has now moved north and grown just bright enough to be a good target for early-rising skygazers with binoculars. Enhanced and framed in this picture, the comet's tail has also grown to a length of several degrees. The comet will be at its closest approach to planet Earth, just over 100 million kilometers away, on March 5. For northern hemisphere observers in the next few days, the beginning of morning twilight really will be the best time to spot Comet Pojmanski.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 February 1 - Venus Just After Sunset
Explanation: Is that Venus or an airplane? A common ponderable for sky enthusiasts is deciding if that bright spot near the horizon is the planet Venus. Usually, an airplane will show itself by moving significantly in a few moments. Venus will set only slowly as the Earth turns. Still, the identification would be easier if Venus did not keep shifting its position each night. Pictured above, Venus was captured 38 different nights during 2005 and 2006 over Bursa, Turkey, when Earth's sister planet appeared exclusively in the evening sky. The average spacing of the images was about five days, while the images were always taken with the Sun about 7 degrees below the horizon. Venus' orbit around the Sun will now confine it to Earth's morning sky until October 2006.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 January 10 - The Phases of Venus
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.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 December 9 - December Moon Meets Evening Star
Explanation: If you've been outdoors near sunset, then you've probably noticed Venus low in the west as the brilliant evening star. Sometimes mistaken for a tower light near the horizon, Venus is the third brightest celestial beacon, after the Sun and Moon, in planet Earth's sky. That distinction is particularly easy to appreciate in this peaceful scene featuring the crescent Moon, Venus, and sunset colors captured on December 4th near Albany, Missouri, USA. As this season's evening star, Venus will be at its most brilliant tonight, but as December progresses the bright planet will begin to fall out of the western sky. By early next week, December's Moon will have moved on to meet another bright planet overhead -- Mars.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 September 13 - A Quadruple Sky Over Great Salt Lake
Explanation: This was a sky to show the kids. All in all, three children, three planets, the Moon, a star, an airplane and a mom were all captured in one image near Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA on September 6. Minus the airplane and the quadruple on the ground, this busy quadruple coincidence sky was visible last week all over the world. The easiest object to spot is the crescent Moon, which is easily the brightest sky orb in the above image. Venus is the highest planet in the sky, with Jupiter to its right. The bright star Spica completes the quadruple just below Venus. The streak on the far right is an airplane. Mom is seated. Grandpa, appreciating the beauty of the moment, took the picture.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 September 9 - Moon River
Explanation: Shortly after sunset on September 6th, sky gazers around the world were treated to a lovely crescent Moon in western skies -- joined by bright planets Venus and Jupiter. In this colorful telephoto view from near Quebec City, Canada the Moon is nestled just above the wide St. Lawrence River. Lights on the horizon are along the river's southern shore. Also known as the evening star, Venus is at the upper left and Jupiter at the upper right, while another prominent celestial beacon, Spica, can be seen shining through the twilight below Venus. Spica, actually a very close pair of hot blue stars some 260 light-years away, is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 September 3 - Venus Unveiled
Explanation: The surface of Venus is perpetually covered by a veil of thick clouds and remains hidden from even the powerful telescopic eyes of earth-bound astronomers. But in the early 1990s, using imaging radar, the Venus orbiting Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the face of Venus and produced spectacular high resolution images of the planet's surface. Colors used in this computer generated picture of Magellan radar data are based on color images from the surface of Venus transmitted by the Soviet Venera 13 and 14 landers. The bright area running roughly across the middle represents the largest highland region of Venus known as Aphrodite Terra.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 August 9 - The Belt of Venus over Elwood Beach
Explanation: Although you've surely seen it, you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly off-color, slightly pink. Called the Belt of Venus, this off-color band between the dark eclipsed sky and the blue sky can be seen in nearly every direction including that opposite the Sun. Straight above, blue sky is normal sunlight reflecting off the atmosphere. In the Belt of Venus, however, the atmosphere reflects light from the setting (or rising) Sun which appears more red. The Belt of Venus can be seen from any location with a clear horizon. Pictured above, the Belt of Venus was photographed behind Elwood Beach in Melbourne, Australia. The belt is frequently caught by accident in other photographs.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 July 15 - Reflections on the Inner Solar System
Explanation: Only Mars is missing from this reflective view of the major rocky bodies of the inner solar system. Captured on July 8th, the serene, twilight picture looks out over the Flat Tops Wilderness area from near Toponas, Colorado, USA and includes planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Earth's large natural satellite, the Moon. The Moon is in a young crescent phase about three degrees above bright planet Venus. Forest fires contribute to a layer of smoke in Earth's sky that almost hides planet Mercury, still visible very near the horizon. Just a week earlier Venus and Mercury were joined by Saturn, forming a notable grouping in the west also enjoyed by skygazers across planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 July 2 - Three Planets by the Sea
Explanation: On Tuesday, June 28th, the setting Sun flooded the horizon with a beautiful warm light in this view from the beach beside the pier at Brighton in Adelaide, South Australia. The Sun also illuminated three planets gathered in the western sky, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn. From this perspective Mercury is at the highest point in the celestial triangle, brilliant Venus is just below, and Saturn stands farther to the left and below the close pair. Of course, the planets only appear close together on the sky but are actually quite far apart in space. The orbits of Mercury and Venus are both interior to Earth's orbit, while gas giant Saturn lies in the outer solar system, over nine astronomical units from the Sun. Late next week, Venus and Mercury will share western skies with the young crescent Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 June 30 - Three Planets from Mt Hamilton
Explanation: Venus, Mercury, and Saturn wandered close together in western evening skies last week. On Saturnday, June 25, astronomer R. Jay GaBany recorded this snapshot of their eye-catching planetary conjunction, from historic Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, California, USA. The view looks toward the Pacific shortly after sunset with the lights of San Jose and the southern San Francisco Bay area in the foreground. Of course, Venus is the brightest of the trio. Mercury is nearby on the right and Saturn is below and left, closest to the horizon. Farther to the right of the planetary triangle are Pollux and Castor, twin stars of Gemini, with Regulus, bright star of the constellation Leo, at the very upper left corner of the picture. In the coming days, Venus and Mercury remain close, while Saturn continues to drop below them, toward the horizon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 June 25 - Venus: Just Passing By
Explanation: Venus, the second closest planet to the Sun, is by far the brightest of the three planets gathered in this weekend's western sky at sunset. It has also proven to be a popular way-point for spacecraft headed for the gas giant planets in the outer reaches of the solar system. Why visit Venus first? Using a gravity assist maneuver, spacecraft can swing by planets and gain energy during their brief encounter, saving fuel for use at the end of their long interplanetary voyage. This colorized image of Venus was recorded by the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft shortly after its gravity assist flyby of Venus in February of 1990. Galileo's glimpse of the veiled planet shows structure in swirling sulfuric acid clouds. The bright area is sunlight glinting off the upper cloud deck.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 June 24 - Planets in the West
Explanation: This weekend three planets will grace the western sky, forming a lovely trio easily visible shortly after sunset. Saturday evening in particular will find Saturn, Venus, and Mercury all within a 2 degree circle (about the size of your thumb held at arm's length) above the western horizon. Recorded last Sunday, June 19, this image shows the same three planets arrayed along the ecliptic plane above a Colorado Rocky Mountain skyline. Venus is easiest to pick out of the twilight, the brightest celestial beacon below picture center, with Saturn above and to the left of Venus, and Mercury closest to the horizon, right of prominent Pinnacle Peak. By Saturday, the wandering planets will draw even closer together. For help spotting the planets here, put your cursor over the picture.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 June 9 - Venus Returns to the Evening Sky
Explanation: This serene image of boats moored in the harbor of l'Île-Tudy, Bretagne, France was taken on June 1st, about an hour after sunset. It also features Venus, third brightest celestial object after the Sun and Moon. For casual skygazers, this month marks Venus' return to the evening sky as the brilliant 'star', shining low in the west-northwest shortly after sunset. In the picture, astrophotographer and APOD translator Laurent Laveder notes that Venus is easily mistaken for a light atop a sailboat's tall mast, giving the otherwise stunning celestial beacon an unremarkable appearance. Of course, a year ago Venus' appearance was quite remarkable. On June 8, 2004, Venus crossed the Sun's disk, the first transit of Venus since 1882. Late this week Venus shares the evening sky with the young crescent Moon, and will next transit the Sun on June 6, 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 April 10 - Venus' Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look at Venus with radar eyes - this is what you might see. This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft. Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above. Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 January 7 - S is for Venus
Explanation: Planet Venus traced out this S shape in Earth's sky during 2004. Following the second planet from the Sun in a series of 29 images recorded from April 3rd through August 7th (top right to bottom left) of that year, astronomer Tunc Tezel constructed this composite illustrating the wandering planet's path against the background stars. The series reveals Venus' apparent retrograde motion transporting it from a brilliant evening star to morning's celestial beacon. Of course, in 2004, after sinking into the evening twilight but before rising above the predawn horizon, Venus was seen in silhouette against the Sun (near center) - the first transit of Venus since 1882. The next time Venus will wander across the solar disk is in 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 November 13 - Moon Over Shiraz
Explanation: Early morning risers around the world have enjoyed the sight of bright planets in this week's predawn skies - further enhanced by the celestial spectacle of the waning crescent Moon. From some locations the Moon was seen to pass in front of Jupiter or Venus, a lunar occultation. Recorded near sunrise on November 10th from Shiraz, Iran, this eastern horizon view finds Jupiter (top) and a brilliant Venus in line with the Moon, a lovely conjunction of the three brightest objects in the night sky. Although the Moon has now fallen out of the early morning scene, Venus and Jupiter (along with a much fainter Mars) still precede the rising Sun above the eastern horizon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 November 8 - Jupiter and Venus at Sunrise
Explanation: What are those bright objects in the morning sky? Early morning dog walkers, among many others across our world's Northern Hemisphere, have likely noticed tremendously bright Venus hanging in the eastern sky just before sunrise. Looking a bit like an approaching airplane, Venus holds its place in the sky and never seems to land. Last week, impressive but less bright Jupiter appeared within a degree of the Venusian orb, creating a dazzling sky that you might appreciate a bit more than your dog. This night sky early show will change slightly over the next week, with the planets moving past each other, Mars moving into the picture, guest stars like Spica appearing to shift in the background, and even a crescent Moon stopping in for a cameo. Pictured above last week, Jupiter and Venus were photographed rising before the Sun over the city of Bursa, Turkey.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 July 20 - Space Station, Venus, Sun
Explanation: On June 8, Venus was not the only celestial object to pass in front of the Sun. A few well-situated photographers caught the International Space Station also crossing the Sun simultaneously. Pictured above is a unique time-lapse image of the unprecedented double transit, a rare event that was visible for less than a second from a narrow band on Earth. The above image is a combination of 12 frames taken 0.033 seconds apart and each themselves lasting only 1/10,000 th of a second. The image was taken from the small village of Stupava in Slovakia. The next time Venus will appear to cross the Sun from Earth will be in 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 July 17 - Transit of Venus Stereogram
Explanation: Venus glides in front of an enormous solar disk in these two frames from the TRACE satellite imaging of the inner planet's 2004 transit. Arranged in a "right/left" stereogram, the frames are intended to be viewed at a comfortable distance from the screen with your eyes gently crossed, allowing the images to merge and produce a pleasing stereo effect. Shown during the ingress (beginning) phase of the transit, the silhouetted portion of the planet appears to float dramatically in front of the Sun's granulated surface. Of course, the dense Cytherian (Venusian) atmosphere also scatters and refracts the intense sunlight. The effect is visible across the portion of the planet still beyond the Sun's edge and viewed against the blackness of space.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 July 3 - Cassini to Venus
Explanation: Saturn Orbiter Cassini with Titan Probe Huygens attached rocketed into early morning skies on October 15, 1997. The mighty Titan 4B Centaur rocket is seen here across the water, arcing away from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Station. Cassini, a sophisticated robot spacecraft was actually headed toward inner planet Venus, the first way point in its 7 year, 2.2 billion mile interplanetary journey to Saturn. In fact, Cassini swung by Venus during April 1998 and June 1999, Earth in August 1999, and Jupiter in December 2000. During each of these "gravity assist" encounters the six ton spacecraft picked up speed, reaching Saturn only three days ago. Cassini is now orbiting the ringed gas giant, with the Huygens Probe scheduled to separate from the spacecraft in December. The probe's descent to the surface of Saturn's large moon Titan will be the most distant landing ever attempted.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 June 23 - A Picturesque Venus Transit
Explanation: The rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun earlier this month was one of the better-photographed events in sky history. Both scientific and artistic images have been flooding in from the areas that could see the transit: Europe and much of Asia, Africa, and North America. Scientifically, solar photographers confirmed that the black drop effect is really better related to the viewing clarity of the camera or telescope than the atmosphere of Venus. Artistically, images might be divided into several categories. One type captures the transit in front of a highly detailed Sun. Another category captures a double coincidence such as both Venus and an airplane simultaneously silhouetted, or Venus and the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. A third image type involves a fortuitous arrangement of interesting looking clouds, as shown by example in the above image taken from North Carolina, USA. There the distant orb of giant Venus might have been mistaken, at first glance, for a small but unusually circular cloud.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 June 15 - A Rare Annular Venusian Solar Eclipse
Explanation: An unusual type of solar eclipse occurred last week. Usually it is the Earth's Moon that eclipses the Sun. Last week, for the first time in over 100 years, the planet Venus took a turn. Like a solar eclipse by the Moon, the phase of Venus became a continually thinner crescent as Venus became increasingly better aligned with the Sun. Eventually the alignment became perfect and the phase of Venus dropped to zero. The dark spot of Venus crossed our parent star. The situation could technically be labeled a Venusian annular eclipse with an extraordinarily large ring of fire. From above the thick cloud tops of Venus, the Earth appeared in its fullest phase, brighter in the Venusian sky than even Mars appeared from Earth last August. Hours later, as Venus continued in its orbit, a slight crescent phase appeared again. The next Venusian solar eclipse will occur in 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 June 11 - Venus and the Chromosphere
Explanation: Enjoying the 2004 Transit of Venus from Stuttgart, Germany, astronomer Stefan Seip recorded this fascinating, detailed image of the Sun. Revealing a network of cells and dark filaments against a bright solar disk with spicules and prominences along the Sun's limb, his telescopic picture was taken through an H-alpha filter. The filter narrowly transmits only the red light from hydrogen atoms and emphasizes the solar chromosphere -- the region of the Sun's atmosphere immediately above its photosphere or normally visible surface. Here, the dark disk of Venus seems to be imitating a giant sunspot that looks perhaps a little too round. But in H-alpha pictures like this one, sunspot regions are usually dominated by bright splotches (called plages) on the solar chromosphere.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 June 10 - Venus at the Edge
Explanation: With Venus in transit at the Sun's edge on June 8th, astronomers captured this tantalizing close-up view of the bright solar surface and partially silhouetted disk. Enhanced in the sharp picture, a delicate arc of sunlight refracted through the Venusian atmosphere is also visible outlining the planet's edge against the blackness of space. The arc is part of a luminous ring or atmospheric aureole, first noted and offered as evidence that Venus did posses an atmosphere following observations of the planet's 1761 transit. The image was recorded using the 1-meter Swedish Solar Telescope located on La Palma in the Canary Islands. For the Institute for Solar Physics, Dan Kiselman, Goran Scharmer, Kai Langhans, and Peter Dettori were at the telescope, while Mats Lofdahl produced the final image. Excellent movies of the transit - including one of the emergence of Venus' atmospheric aureole - are available from the Dutch Open Telescope, also observing from La Palma.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 June 9 - Venus Transit at Sunrise
Explanation: Did you see the transit? While some watched by webcast, sky gazers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia were able to witness the complete 6 hour journey of Venus' silhouetted disk across the face of the Sun. As seen from North America, the much heralded Venus Transit of 2004 was nearing its final stages at sunrise yesterday in this telescopic image. The view looks across the Atlantic from Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia, USA. In fact, many in eastern North America experienced a dramatic view of a perfect, dark, round Venus against a reddened Sun filtered by banks of low clouds. Ironically, the Sun takes on the appearance of a cloud covered planet itself as Venus marches toward the right through this dreamlike scene.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 June 8 - A Planet Transits the Sun
Explanation: Today an astronomical event will occur that no living person has ever seen: Venus will cross directly in front of the Sun. A Venus crossing, called a transit, last occurred in 1882 and was front-page news around the world. Today's transit will be visible in its entirety throughout Europe and most of Asia and Africa. The northeastern half of North America will see the Sun rise with the dark dot of Venus already superposed. Never look directly at the Sun, even when Venus is in front. Mercury's closer proximity to the Sun cause it to transit every few years. In fact, the above image mosaic of Mercury crossing the Sun is from two transits ago, in November 1999. Will anyone living see the next Venus transit? Surely yes since it occurs in 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 May 21 - Phases of Venus
Explanation: Venus is currently falling out of the western evening sky. Second planet from the Sun and third brightest celestial object after the Sun and Moon, Venus has been appreciated by casual sky gazers as a brilliant beacon above the horizon after sunset. But telescopic images have also revealed its dramatic phases. In fact, this thoughtful composite of telescopic views nicely illustrates the progression of phases and increase in apparent size undergone by Venus over the past few weeks. Gliding along its interior orbit, Venus has been catching up with planet Earth, growing larger as it draws near. At the same time, just as the Moon goes through phases, Venus' visible sunlit hemisphere has presented an increasingly slender, crescent shape. Now sharing the sky with a crescent Moon, on June 8th Venus will actually cross the face of the Sun, the first such transit since 1882.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 May 16 - Venus: Earth's Cloudy Twin
Explanation: This picture by the Galileo spacecraft shows just how cloudy Venus is. Venus is very similar to Earth in size and mass - and so is sometimes referred to as Earth's sister planet - but Venus has a quite different climate. Venus' thick clouds and closeness to the Sun (only Mercury is closer) make it the hottest planet - much hotter than the Earth. Humans could not survive there, and no life of any sort has ever been found. When Venus is visible it is usually the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. More than 20 spacecraft have visited Venus including Venera 9, which landed on the surface, and Magellan, which used radar to peer through the clouds and make a map of the surface. This visible light picture of Venus was taken by the Galileo spacecraft that orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003. Many things about Venus remain unknown, including the cause of mysterious bursts of radio waves.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 April 15 - Venus and the Pleiades
Explanation: Venus still rules the western skies after sunset as the brilliant evening star. While wandering the ecliptic with its fellow naked-eye planets earlier this month, it passed near the Pleiades star cluster, providing a striking photo opportunity for earthbound skygazers. Cataloged as M45, the Pleiades stars make for a lovely sight on their own, often shown in long exposure images immersed in hazy blue reflection nebulae. In this picture though, recorded on the evening of April 3rd, brilliant Venus closes with the Seven Sisters and overwhelms the light from the delicate cosmic clouds. The view offers a study in contrasts as Venus appears about 700 times brighter than Alcyone, the Pleiades brightest star. With Venus just over 5 light-minutes from Earth, Alcyone and the other Pleiades cluster stars are about 400 light-years distant. Formed out of the contracting nebula which gave birth to the Sun, Venus is also roughly 4.5 billion years old. The stars of the Pleiades are likely aged a mere hundred million years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 April 2 - Mercury and Venus in the West
Explanation: Doing their part in the ongoing dance of the planets, Mercury and Venus both reached their greatest elongation or maximum apparent distance from the Sun only a few days ago, on March 29th. Eager to record their celestial accomplishment, astronomer Jimmy Westlake snapped this view of the two inner most planets shining in western twilight skies above Yampa, Colorado, USA. The picture was taken using a digital camera mounted on a tripod. Mercury is easily the brightest celestial object near the horizon, appearing to the right of the foreground structure and just above a thin cloud silhouetted by fading sunlight. Still, near the top of the picture brilliant Venus dominates the scene as the magnificent evening star. After climbing in western skies throughout the month of March, Venus lies just below the Pleiades star cluster. Tonight and tomorrow night, skygazers can spot Venus at the southern edge of the Pleiades.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 March 23 - Lava Flows on Venus
Explanation: The hot surface of Venus shows clear signs of ancient lava flows. Evidence of this was bolstered by the robot spacecraft Magellan, which orbited Venus in the early 1990s. Using imaging radar, Magellan was able to peer beneath the thick perpetual clouds that cover Earth's closest planetary neighbor. Picture above, lava apparently flowed down from the top of the image and pooled in the light colored areas visible across the image middle and bottom. The lava cut a channel across the darker ridge that runs horizontally across the image center. The picture covers about 500 kilometers across. The lava originates from a caldera named Ammavaru that lies about 300 kilometers off the image top. The hot dense climate makes Venus a more difficult planet on which to land spacecraft and rovers. Venus currently sparkles as the brightest object in the western sky after sunset.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 March 8 - Moon and Venus over Corona Del Mar Beach
Explanation: The crescent Moon passed nearly in front of Venus two weeks ago. The close conjunction of the night sky's two brightest objects created a striking pose for many viewing the evening sky just after sunset. Such a pose, shown above, was captured between clouds over Corona Del Mar Beach in California, USA. To be precise, the Moon appeared to pass only about three degrees from Venus on February 23. A similar conjunction will occur later this month, on March 24, when Venus appears near its furthest from the Sun while the Moon passes only about 2 degrees away.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 December 25 - Venus and the 37 Hour Moon
Explanation: At Table Mountain Observatory, near Wrightwood California, USA on October 26, wild fires were approaching from the east. But looking toward the west just after sunset, astronomer James Young could still enjoy this comforting view of a young crescent Moon and brilliant Venus through the the fading twilight. Setting over the horizon of Mt. Baden-Powell, the thin crescent was only about 37 hours "old", or 37 hours after its exact New Moon phase. After disappearing from morning twilight in August, Venus was becoming prominent in its role in western skies as the evening star. A similar lovely pairing of thin crescent Moon and stunning evening star can be seen toward the west in today's evening twilight. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes from APOD!

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 November 30 - A Venus Landing
Explanation: This image is part of the first color panoramic view from Venus. A TV camera on the Soviet Venera 13 lander that parachuted to the surface on 1982 March 1 transmitted it. Venus' clouds are composed of sulfuric acid droplets while its surface temperature is about 482 degrees Celsius at an atmospheric pressure of 92 times that of sea-level on Earth. Despite these harsh conditions, the Venera 13 lander survived long enough to send back a series of images and perform an analysis of the Venusian soil. Part of the lander itself is visible in the lower right portion of the image. An earlier Soviet Venus lander, Venera 7 (1970), was the first spacecraft to return data from the surface of another planet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 October 21 - The Belt of Venus over the Valley of the Moon
Explanation: Although you've surely seen it, you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly off-color, slightly pink. Called the Belt of Venus, this off-color band between the dark eclipsed sky and the blue sky can be seen in nearly every direction including that opposite the Sun. Straight above, blue sky is normal sunlight reflecting off the atmosphere. In the Belt of Venus, however, the atmosphere reflects light from the setting (or rising) Sun which appears more red. The Belt of Venus can be seen from any location with a clear horizon. Pictured above, the Belt of Venus was photographed above morning fog in the Valley of the Moon, a famous wine-producing region in northern California, USA. The belt is frequently caught by accident in other photographs.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 May 14 - The North Pole of Venus
Explanation: If you could look down on the North Pole of Venus what would you see? The Magellan probe that orbited Venus from 1990 to 1994 was able to peer through the thick Venusian clouds and build up the above image by emitting and re-detecting cloud-penetrating radar. Visible as the bright patch below central North is Venus' highest mountain Maxwell Montes. Other notable features include numerous mountains, coronas, impact craters, tessera, ridges, and lava flows. Although the size and mass of Venus are similar to the Earth, its thick carbon-dioxide atmosphere has trapped heat so efficiently that surface temperature usually exceeds 700 kelvins, hot enough to melt lead.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 April 27 - Venus' Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look at Venus with radar eyes - this is what you might see. This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft. Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above. Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 December 4 - Moon, Mars, Venus, and Spica
Explanation: Gliding toward today's total eclipse of the Sun, the crescent Moon has been rising early, just before dawn. And as a prelude to its close solar alignment, the Moon also completed a lovely celestial triangle, closing with bright planets Mars and Venus on the morning of December 1. While the total solar eclipse can only be seen from a narrow corridor, skygazers around the globe could appreciate this lunar-planetary conjunction. This view is from near Nashville Tennessee, USA, and finds brilliant Venus at the lowest corner of the triangle with a much fainter Mars immediately to the right of the Moon. The Moon's sunlit crescent is overexposed, but details of the lunar night side are revealed by earthshine. Above and to the right of the trio is Spica, brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 September 29 - Venus: Just Passing By
Explanation: Venus, the second closest planet to the Sun, is a popular way-point for spacecraft headed for the gas giant planets in the outer reaches of the solar system. Why visit Venus first? Using a "gravity assist " maneuver, spacecraft can swing by planets and gain energy during their brief encounter saving fuel for use at the end of their long interplanetary voyage. This colorized image of Venus was recorded by the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft shortly after its gravity assist flyby of Venus in February of 1990. Galileo's glimpse of the veiled planet shows structure in swirling sulfuric acid clouds. The bright area is sunlight glinting off the upper cloud deck. A recent intriguing but controversial hypothesis holds that living microbes might exist in the upper clouds of Venus.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 September 10 - Venus Beyond the Storm
Explanation: A thunderstorm, lightning, a bright star and a bright planet all graced an evening sky for a short while near Bismarck, North Dakota, USA two weeks ago. Thick thunderclouds from a passing storm are the origin of a strong cloud to ground lightning strike. Small areas of rain darken portions of the orange sunset, visible at the horizon above the vast prairie. The planet Venus peeks below the clouds on the lower left of the image. Blue sky shines high above the distant storm, streaked with high white cirrus clouds. The bright star Arcturus glitters near the image top, just left of center. Just a few minutes later, only a memory and this picture remained.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 June 25 - Venus and Jupiter Over Belfast
Explanation: Venus and Jupiter appeared to glide right past each other earlier this month. In a slow day-by-day march, Jupiter sank into the sunset horizon while Venus remained high and bright. The conjunction ended the five-planet party visible over the last two months. Jupiter, of course, is much further away from the Earth and Sun than Venus, so the passing was really just an angular illusion. Pictured above on June 3, a fading sunset finds Venus shining over Jupiter above clouds, mountains, and the city lights of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 June 19 - The Moon and Venus Over Geneva
Explanation: The Moon, fresh from a biting encounter with the Sun last week, appeared next to threaten Venus. The waxing Moon appeared to glide right past, however, just a few degrees away. Venus, of course, is much further away from the Earth than the Moon, so the passing was really just an angular illusion. Pictured above on June 13, a fading sunset finds the crescent Moon and Venus between clouds and above the city lights of Geneva, Switzerland.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 May 24 - Love and War by Moonlight
Explanation: Venus, named for the Roman goddess of love, and Mars, the war god's namesake, approach each other by moonlight in this lovely sky view recorded on May 14th from Dunkirk, Maryland, USA. The four second time exposure made in twilight with a digital camera also records earthshine illuminating the otherwise dark surface of the young crescent Moon. Venus shines as the third brightest object in Earth's sky, after the Sun and the Moon itself, and has been appearing as the brilliant evening star in the pantheon of planets arrayed in the west during April and May. Here, Venus' light is so intense that it produces a noticeable spike in the sensitive camera's image. Much fainter Mars is lower in the picture, caught between tree limbs swaying in a gentle evening breeze. By early June, Mars will be harder to spot as it wanders toward the horizon, but Venus and father Jupiter will draw closer together, presenting a spectacular pair of bright planets in the west.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 May 10 - Trailing Planets
Explanation: Positioning his camera and tripod on planet Earth, near Maricopa, Arizona, USA, astrophotographer Joe Orman created this trailing display of the ongoing sky-full-of-planets on May 3rd. He initially captured the grouping in a 20 second long time exposure recording the positions of the bright planets and stars. Covering the camera lens for five minutes, he then exposed the same frame for 45 minutes, tracing the gentle arcs of the celestial wanderers as the Earth's rotation carried them toward the western horizon. Of course these planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn all still dazzle in western skies near sunset, but sky gazers who want to see Mercury should look soon. Mercury starts the evening closest to the horizon - visible here above the wide bright trail left by Venus - and in the coming days Mercury will be the first to leave the evening sky entirely as it moves closer to the setting Sun. Tonight Venus and Mars will appear very close together, separated by only one third of a degree.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 April 18 - Planets in the West
Explanation: Have you seen any bright planets lately? Chances are if you've been outside under clear skies just after sunset, then you have. Now shining in the west as bright "stars" in the night sky, are all five planets of the solar system known to ancient astronomers - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. Recorded from Holt, Michigan, USA about 40 minutes after sunset on April 14th, this digital image captures three of them, Venus, Mars, and Saturn, along with a young crescent Moon. Also indicated are the Pleiades star cluster and bright red giant star Aldebaran in Taurus. Mercury, setting, is lost in the trees and glow along the horizon, while Jupiter is off the top of this view. The coming weeks will see photo opportunities galore as all five planets gradually move closer together, posing after sunset with the Moon and stars in the western sky. Venus, Mars, and Saturn will form the closest trio, drawing within a 5 degree circle (about the apparent size of your fist with arm extended) above Aldebaran by May 3rd.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 March 30 - Venus Unveiled
Explanation: The surface of Venus is perpetually covered by a veil of thick clouds and remains hidden from even the powerful telescopic eyes of earth-bound astronomers. But in the early 1990s, using imaging radar, the Venus orbiting Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the face of Venus and produced spectacular high resolution images of the planet's surface. Colors used in this computer generated picture of Magellan radar data are based on color images from the surface of Venus transmitted by the Soviet Venera 13 and 14 landers. The bright area running roughly across the middle represents the largest highland region of Venus known as Aphrodite Terra.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 March 12 - Atete Corona on Venus
Explanation: What could cause a huge cylindrical mountain to rise from the surface of Venus? Such features that occur on Venus are known as coronas. Pictured above in the foreground is 500-kilometer wide Atete Corona found in a region of Venus known as the Galindo. The image was created by combining multiple radar maps of the region to form a computer-generated three-dimensional perspective. The series of dark rectangles that crosses the image from top to bottom were created by the imaging procedure and are not real. The origin of massive coronas remains a mystery although speculation holds they result from some form of volcanism. Studying Venusian coronas help scientists better understand the inner structure of both Venus and Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 December 11 - Venusian Half Shell
Explanation: Venus, second planet from the Sun, appears above imaged for the first time ever in x-rays (left) by the orbiting Chandra Observatory. Chandra's smoothed, false-color, x-ray view is compared to an optical image (right) from a small earthbound telescope. Both show Venus illuminated by the Sun from the right, with only half the sunward hemisphere visible, but at least one striking difference is apparent. While the optical image in reflected sunlight is filled and bright at the center, Venus in x-rays is bright around the edge. Venus' x-rays are produced by fluorescence rather than reflection. About 120 kilometers or so above the surface, incoming solar x-rays excite atoms in the Venusian atmosphere to unstable energy levels. As the atoms rapidly decay back to their stable ground states they emit a "fluorescence" x-ray, creating a glowing x-ray half-shell above the sunlit hemisphere. More x-ray emitting material can be seen looking at the edge of the shell, so the edge appears brighter in the x-ray image.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 December 9 - The Belt of Venus
Explanation: Although you've surely seen it, you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly off-color, slightly pink. Visible in the above photograph, this off-color band between the dark eclipsed sky and the blue sky can best be seen in the direction opposite the Sun and is called the Belt of Venus. Straight above, blue sky is normal sunlight reflecting off the atmosphere. In the Belt of Venus, however, the atmosphere reflects light from the setting (or rising) Sun which appears more red. The Belt of Venus can be seen from any location with a clear horizon. It is frequently caught by accident in other photographs.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 September 16 - Venus Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look at Venus with radar eyes - this is what you might see. This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft. Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above. Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 June 1 - Venus' Evening Loop
Explanation: From September 2000 through March 2001, astronomer Tunc Tezel patiently photographed the planet Venus on 25 different dates as it wandered through the evening twilight. The pictures were taken from the same spot on the campus of the Middle East Technical University near Ankara, Turkey, and timed so that for each photo the Sun was 7 degrees below the horizon. Carefully registering and combining the pictures, he produced this composite image -- a stunning demonstration of Venus' grand looping sky motion during its recent stint as planet Earth's evening star. As indicated, the first picture, taken September 28, 2000, finds Venus close to the western horizon and drifting south (left) with the passing days. By December however, Venus was climbing well above the horizon after sunset and in January 2001 it reached its maximum apparent distance (elongation) from the Sun. March found Venus falling from the evening sky while moving rapidly north, finally appearing (far right) as a faint dot against the sunset glow on March 24. This month, Venus rises before dawn as the brilliant morning star.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 May 15 - A Radar Image of Venus
Explanation: The largest radio telescopes in the world are working together to create a new map of the surface of Venus. The surface of Venus is unusually hidden by a thick atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide gas. These thick clouds are transparent, however, to radar signals sent and received from Earth. The two radio telescopes generating the most powerful radar ever are the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico and the new Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. The new survey will resolve details as fine a one-kilometer across, and will be inspected for changes since the last major radar map was made by NASA's Magellan spacecraft that orbited Venus from 1990 to 1994. Pictured above is part of a preliminary image showing details as small as five-kilometers across.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 May 7 - One Hundred Kilometer Terrain on Venus
Explanation: Even the hot and cracked surface of Venus has rolling hills. Although never actually photographed from up-close, images of the Venusian surface like that shown above have been constructed in recent years by digitally merging distant photographs from height-sensitive radar. Isolated above is a 100-kilometer wide swath inside a volcanic region known as Yavine Corona. Visible in the frame are numerous fractures in the surface. Data is missing from the dark lane on the upper right. The surface of Venus is so hot and oppressive that robot spacecraft landed there have lasted for only a few hours.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 March 8 - Bright Venus
Explanation: Have you seen a bright evening star in the western sky lately? That's no star, that's planet Venus the second "rock" from the Sun. Blazing at -4.6 magnitude, Venus, after the Sun and Moon, is the third brightest celestial body in planet Earth's sky. Venus is closer to the Sun than Earth and as Venus orbits the Sun it is seen to go through phases similar to the Moon. But unlike the Moon, as Venus waxes and wanes its distance from Earth and hence its apparent size changes drastically. This causes Venus to look brighter as it looms large in its crescent phases than when it is smaller and nearly full. Taken on January 28th, this dramatic picture finds a crescent Venus near its brightest to the right of a crescent Moon. The brilliant rivals seem poised above a satellite dish of the Scripps Satellite Oceanography Facility. Closer to the horizon, just below and to the right of the satellite dish, Mercury pierces the twilight glow.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 July 28 - Moon And Venus Share The Sky
Explanation: July is drawing to a close and in the past few days, some early morning risers could have looked east and seen a crescent Moon sharing the pre-dawn skies with planets Jupiter and Saturn. Planet Mercury will also pass about 2 degrees from the thin waning crescent Moon just before sunrise near the eastern horizon on Saturday, July 29. And finally, on the evening of July 31st, Venus will take its turn near the crescent Moon. But this time it will be a day-old crescent Moon near the western horizon, shortly after sunset. In fact, on July 31 (August 1 Universal Time) the Moon will occult (pass in front of) Venus for northwestern observers in North America. This telescopic picture taken on 31 December 1997, shows a lovely young crescent Moon and brilliant crescent Venus in the early evening sky near Bursa, Turkey.

And what about the Sun? On Sunday, July 30, a partial eclipse of the Sun will be visible from some locations in North America.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 April 6 - Venus, Moon, and Neighbors
Explanation: Rising before the Sun on February 2nd, astrophotographer Joe Orman anticipated this apparition of the bright morning star Venus near a lovely crescent Moon above a neighbor's house in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Fortunately, the alignment of bright planets and the Moon is one of the most inspiring sights in the night sky and one that is often easy to enjoy and share without any special equipment. Take tonight, for example. Those blessed with clear skies can simply step outside near sunset and view a young crescent Moon very near three bright planets in the west Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Jupiter will be the unmistakable brightest star near the Moon with a reddish Mars just to Jupiter's north and pale yellow Saturn directly above. Of course, these sky shows create an evocative picture but the planets and Moon just appear to be near each other -- they are actually only approximately lined up and lie in widely separated orbits. Unfortunately, next month's highly publicized alignment of planets on May 5th will be lost from view in the Sun's glare but such planetary alignments occur repeatedly and pose no danger to planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 March 26 - Venus Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look at Venus with radar eyes - this is what you might see. This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft. Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above. Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: November 28, 1999 - Beneath Venus Clouds
Explanation: If the thick clouds covering Venus were removed, how would the surface appear? Using an imaging radar technique, the Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the Face of Venus and produce this spectacular high resolution image of the planet's surface. Red, in this false-color map, represents mountains, while blue represents valleys. This 3-kilometer resolution map is a composite of Magellan images compiled between 1990 and 1994. Gaps were filled in by the Earth-based Arecibo Radio Telescope. The large yellow/red area in the north is Ishtar Terra featuring Maxwell Montes, the largest mountain on Venus. The large highland regions are analogous to continents on Earth. Scientists are particularly interested in exploring the geology of Venus because of its similarity to Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: November 10, 1999 - The Belt of Venus
Explanation: Although you've surely seen it, you might not have noticed it. During a cloudless twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, part of the atmosphere above the horizon appears slightly off-color, slightly pink. Visible in the above photograph, this off-color band between the dark eclipsed sky and the blue sky can best be seen in the direction opposite the Sun and is called the Belt of Venus. Straight above, blue sky is normal sunlight reflecting off the atmosphere. In the Belt of Venus, however, the atmosphere reflects light from the setting (or rising) Sun which appears more red. The Belt of Venus can be seen from any location with a clear horizon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 3, 1999 - Venus Falls Out of the Evening Sky
Explanation: Orbiting closer to the Sun than planet Earth, bright Venus always appears to be near the Sun's position in our sky and often shines near the horizon in twilight hours. In fact, after posing as the brilliant evening star for the first half of this year, Venus has now swung around its orbit and is emerging in the predawn twilight as the morning star. Taken during its stint as the evening star, this imaginative long-exposure photo, of Venus and a 2-day-old crescent Moon gives the illusion of the pair "falling out" of the western sky. After an initial short exposure captured the Moon and Venus, the lens was covered for a few minutes, then left uncovered to record the trails until the Moon had set.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: June 19, 1999 - Venus on the Horizon
Explanation: Venus can appear as a brilliant evening star. Besides the sun and moon, Venus is the brightest object visible in Earth's sky. Because it is closer to the sun than Earth, Venus never strays far from the sun in its apparent position and is seen during the year as either a bright morning or evening star. This beautiful sunset imaged from low earth orbit by the Atlantis space shuttle crew in May 1989 also reveals the planet Venus blazing above Earth's horizon. It is a fitting image for this mission and crew. It was recorded following the successful release of the robot Venus-explorer Magellan, the first planetary probe to be deployed from a space shuttle.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: June 12, 1999 - Venus: Just Passing By
Explanation: Venus, the second closest planet to the Sun, is a popular way-point for spacecraft headed for the gas giant planets in the outer reaches of the solar system. Why visit Venus first? Using a " gravity assist " maneuver, spacecraft can swing by planets and gain energy during their brief encounter saving fuel for use at the end of their long interplanetary voyage. This colorized image of Venus was recorded by the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft shortly after its gravity assist flyby of Venus in February of 1990. Galileo's glimpse of the veiled planet shows structure in swirling sulfuric acid clouds. The bright area is sunlight glinting off the upper cloud deck. The Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft will complete its own second flyby of Venus on June 24th. Launched in October of 1997, Cassini should reach Saturn in July 2004.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: May 18, 1999 - A Laguna Triangle
Explanation: High above Laguna Beach last month hung bright celestial orbs. Visible after the California sunset were, from left to right, the Moon, Saturn, and Venus. Tonight and for the next few days, Venus and the Moon will again be visible together. Nearby stars will include Pollux, Castor, and Procyon. Venus now sets hours after the Sun and is so bright it might be mistaken for an airplane or UFO. Binoculars should enable the viewing of craters on the Moon, and phases for Venus.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: March 8, 1999 - A Jupiter Venus Conjunction
Explanation: Venus and Jupiter appeared unusually close together in the sky last month. The conjunction was easily visible to the unaided eye because Venus appears brighter than any background star. The two planets were not significantly closer in space - Venus just passed nearly in front of Jupiter as seen from the Earth. Visible in the above photograph are actually five planets. The faint dot near the top is Saturn. Venus is the brightest spot near the center, and Jupiter is just above it. Perhaps the hardest to see is Mercury, visible below Venus but above the foreground Earth. A single line nearly connects all the planets, a result of all planets orbiting the Sun in a single plane called the ecliptic.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: January 24, 1999 - A Venus Landing
Explanation: This image is part of the first color panoramic view from Venus. It was transmitted by a TV camera on the Soviet Venera 13 lander which parachuted to thesurface on March 1, 1982. Venus' clouds are composed of sulfuric acid droplets while its surface temperature is about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees C) at an atmospheric pressure of 92 times that of sea-level on Earth. Despite these harsh conditions, the Venera 13 lander survived long enough to send back a series of images and perform an analysis of the Venusian soil. Part of the lander itself is visible in the lower right portion of the image. An earlier Soviet Venus lander,Venera 7 (1970), was the first spacecraft to return data from the surface of another planet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: January 10, 1999 - Venus Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look at Venus with radar eyes - this is what you might see. This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft. Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above. Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: August 25, 1998 - Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Phoenix
Explanation: Before a relaxing sunrise, the sky begins to glow with unusual delights. Such was the view from Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona this April. The glittering objects visible in this photograph are, from lower left to upper right: Phoenix, our Moon, Venus, and Jupiter. Such proximity is somewhat unusual. Jupiter will be visible in the evening sky through the rest of the year, while Venus can be seen in the early morning sky during the month of September.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: May 1, 1998 - Venus: Just Passing By
Explanation: Venus, the second closest planet to the Sun, is a popular way-point for spacecraft headed for the gas giant planets in the outer reaches of the solar system. Why visit Venus first? Using a " gravity assist " maneuver, spacecraft can swing by planets and gain energy during their brief encounter saving fuel for use at the end of their long interplanetary voyage. This colorized image of Venus was recorded by the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft shortly after its gravity assist flyby of Venus in February of 1990. Galileo's glimpse of the veiled planet shows structure in swirling sulfuric acid clouds. The bright area is sunlight glinting off the upper cloud deck. The Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft just completed its own flyby of Venus on April 26. Launched in October of 1997, Cassini should reach Saturn in July 2004.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: January 20, 1998 - Arachnoids on Venus
Explanation: Arachnoids are large structures of unknown origin that have been found only on the surface of Venus. Arachnoids get their name from their resemblance to spider-webs. They appear as concentric ovals surrounded by a complex network of fractures, and can span 200 kilometers. Radar echoes from the Magellan spacecraft that orbited Venus from 1990 to 1994 built up this image. Over 30 arachnoids have been identified on Venus, so far. The Arachnoid might be a strange relative to the volcano, but possibly different arachnoids are formed by different processes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: October 16, 1997 - Cassini To Venus
Explanation: NASA's Saturn Explorer Cassini with ESA's Titan Probe Huygens attached successfully rocketed into the skies early yesterday morning. The mighty Titan 4B Centaur rocket is seen here across the water gracefully arcing away from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Station. Cassini, a sophisticated, bus-sized robot spacecraft is now on its way ... to Venus, the first planetary way point in its 7 year, 2.2 billion mile journey to Saturn. The mission profile calls for Cassini to swing by Venus during April 1998 and June 1999, Earth in August 1999, and Jupiter in December 2000. During each of these "gravity assist" encounters the six ton spacecraft will pick up energy needed to reach Saturn in July 2004. Cassini's mission is the most ambitious voyage of interplanetary exploration ever mounted by humanity and the Huygens Probe's planned descent to the surface of Titan will be the most distant landing ever attempted.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: October 14, 1997 - Venus On The Horizon
Explanation: The month of October features a sky full of planets, including Venus as the brilliant evening star. Besides the sun and moon, Venus is the brightest object visible in Earth's sky. This month, Venus appears in early evening near the red planet Mars and Mars' red giant rival Antares above the southwestern horizon. Because it is closer to the sun than Earth, Venus never strays far from the sun in its apparent position and is seen during the year as either a bright morning or evening star. This beautiful sunset imaged from low earth orbit by the Atlantis space shuttle crew in May 1989 also reveals the planet Venus blazing above Earth's horizon. It is a fitting image for this mission and crew. It was recorded following the successful release of the robot Venus-explorer Magellan, the first planetary probe to be deployed from a space shuttle.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: June 3, 1997 - Venus' Once Molten Surface
Explanation: If you could look at Venus with radar eyes - this is what you might see. This computer reconstruction of the surface of Venus was created from data from the Magellan spacecraft. Magellan orbited Venus and used radar to map our neighboring planet's surface between 1990 and 1994. Magellan found many interesting surface features, including the large circular domes, typically 25-kilometers across, that are depicted above. Volcanism is thought to have created the domes, although the precise mechanism remains unknown. Venus' surface is so hot and hostile that no surface probe has lasted more than a few minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: May 7, 1997 - Ultraviolet Venus
Explanation: The forecast for Venus is cloudy, cloudy, cloudy. Although similar to the Earth in size and mass, Venus' slightly closer orbit to the Sun create for it a much thicker atmosphere and a much hotter surface. The thick atmosphere was photographed above in ultraviolet light in 1979 by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Whether or not Venus has a moon was the center of a great controversy in the 1700s and 1800s. Today we know Venus has no natural satellites. Venus's extremely uncomfortable climate was likely caused by a runaway greenhouse effect. Could Earth ever undergo runaway greenhouse heating like Venus?

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 24, 1996 - Beneath Venus' Clouds
Explanation: If the thick clouds covering Venus were removed, how would the surface appear? Using an imaging radar technique, the Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the Face of Venus and produce this spectacular high resolution imageof the planet's surface. Red, in this false-color map, represent mountains, while blue represents valleys This 3-kilometer resolution map is a composite of Magellan images compiled between 1990 and 1994. Gaps were filled in by the Earth-based Arecibo Radio Telescope. The large yellow/red area in the north is Ishtar Terra featuring Maxwell Montes, the largest mountain on Venus. The large highland regions are analogous to continents on Earth. Scientists are particularly interested in exploring the geology of Venus because of its similarity to Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 23, 1996 - Venus: Earth's Cloudy Twin
Explanation: If Venus weren't so cloudy it would be more similar to Earth. This picture by the Galileo spacecraft shows just how cloudy Venus is. Venus is very similar to Earth in size and mass - and so is sometimes referred to as Earth's sister planet - but Venus has a quite different climate. Venus' thick clouds and closeness to the Sun (only Mercury is closer) make it the hottest planet - much hotter than the Earth. Humans could not survive there, and no life of any sort has ever been found. When Venus is visible it is usually the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. More than 20 spacecraft have visited Venus including Venera 9, which landed on the surface, and Magellan, which used radar to peer through the clouds and make a map of the surface. This visible light picture of Venus was taken by the Galileo spacecraft now in orbit around Jupiter. Many things about Venus remain unknown, including the cause of mysterious bursts of radio waves.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: June 24, 1996 - A View from Venus: Rift Valley
Explanation: Color information from the Soviet Venera landers and radar data from the Magellan spacecraft were used to construct this striking perspective view of the Venusian landscape. (In this computer generated image, the vertical scale has been exagerated.) In the foreground is the edge of a rift valley created by faulting in the crust of Venus. The valley runs all the way to the base of Gula Mons, a 2 mile high volcano seen here on the right, some 450 miles in the distance. On the left is another volcano, Sif Mons. Using radar to pierce the dense clouds continuously shrouding the Face of Venus, Magellan was able to explore over 98% of the Venusian surface, revealing a a diverse and tantalizing topography.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: April 18, 1996 - Hyakutake, Venus, Orion, and Pond
Explanation: Can you find Comet Hyakutake in the above picture? In this gorgeous photo, the starry night sky of April 9th is pictured with its new comet visitor. In the foreground is a pond with the lights of Kansas City, Missouri on the western horizon. On the upper left, the constellation of Orion is visible. At the center, the brightest object in the picture is the planet Venus. Venus's reflection can be seen in the pond. On the right - halfway between Venus and the photograph's edge - can be seen two bright objects fairly close to each other. Of these two, look closely at lower right object. See the tail? Comet Hyakutake is still visible for Northern observers in the Western sky and now has begun to brighten again as it nears the Sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day.APOD: September 27, 1995 - A Venus Landing
Explanation: This image is part of the first color panoramic view from Venus. It was transmitted by a TV camera on the Soviet Venera 13 lander which parachuted to the surface on March 1, 1982. Venus' clouds are composed of sulfuric acid droplets while its surface temperature is about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees C) at an atmospheric pressure of 92 times that of sea-level on Earth. Despite these harsh conditions, the Venera 13 lander survived long enough to send back a series of images and perform an analysis of the Venusian soil. Part of the lander itself is visible in the lower right portion of the image. An earlier Soviet Venus lander, Venera 7 (1970), was the first spacecraft to return data from the surface of another planet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: August 23, 1995 - A Venusian Tick
Explanation: Data from the Magellan spacecraft has shown the Face of Venus to contain a host of volcanic features. This image shows an example of a fairly common type of venusian volcanic feature. Known as a "tick" it represents a volcano about 20 miles wide at the summit with ridges and valleys radiating down its sides lending it an insect like appearance.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: August 22, 1995 - Venus UnVeiled
Explanation: The surface of Venus is perpetually covered by a veil of thick clouds and remains hidden from even the powerful telescopic eyes of earth-based astronomers. However, using an imaging radar technique, the Magellan spacecraft was able to lift the veil from the Face of Venus and produce spectacular high resolution images of the planet's surface. The bright area running across the middle of this picture represents the largest highland region of Venus known as Aphrodite Terra. The large highland regions are analogous to continents on Earth. Scientists are particularly interested in exploring the geology of Venus because of its similarity to Earth. For more information about Venus and this image see the Overview of Venus.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: August 15, 1995 - Venus: Earth's Sister Planet
Explanation: This picture in visible light was taken by the Galileo spacecraft. Venus is very similar to Earth in size and mass - and so is sometimes referred to as Earth's sister planet - but Venus has a quite different climate. Venus' thick clouds and closeness to the Sun (only Mercury is closer) make it the hottest planet - much hotter than the Earth. Humans could not survive there, and no life of any sort has ever been found. When Venus is visible it is usually the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. More than 20 spacecraft have visited Venus including Venera 9, which landed on the surface, and Magellan, which used radar to peer through the clouds and make a map of the surface. There are still many things about Venus's unusual atmosphere that astronomers don't understand.


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