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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Venus Reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation Tonight

Venus, Jupiter and the moon continue to put on their grand show tonight (March 27th), with Venus reaching greatest eastern elongation for this apparition at 46 degrees from the sun, almost the most distant it can be (47 degrees). Venus never ranges far from the sun, since its orbit is interior to the earth's, making it what astronomers call an "inferior planet", no value judgement intended!

This diagram shows the elongations (or angle) ...This diagram shows the elongations (or angle) of an inferior planet relative to the Earth and Sun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can continue watching this shinning apparition tonight and tomorrow night, as the waxing crescent moon joins Venus and Jupiter for a last hurrah in the west, shortly after sunset and continuing on for about 3-4 hours until they set for northern hemisphere observers.

Enjoy it while you can, since the next time the moon comes this way Jupiter will be almost lost in the sunset glow as it goes behind the sun for its conjunction in May.

From top right down: Pleiades, Venus, Moon (overexposed waxing crescent), Jupiter, and a myriad of stars abounding above the dome of the Weiss Observatory in Mitzpe Ramon.

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