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Venus And Crescent Moon Pair Up At Dawn

The Moon and Venus will be paired low in early dawn on February 28th and March 1st, 2011. This illustration may be reproduced freely with credit to Sky and Telescope magazine. Web use must include a link to More details on this story and more at Sky and Telescope
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Feb 23, 2011
The brightest planet and the eerie waning crescent Moon will create an arresting sky scene low in the southeast in the early dawn of Monday, February 28th, and Tuesday, March 1st, 2011.

"These are the two brightest astronomical objects in the sky after the Sun," says Alan MacRobert, a senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine. "They'll certainly catch your eye, if you look low in the southeast about 60 to 40 minutes before sunrise - weather permitting."

Venus will be shining to the Moon's lower left on the morning of Monday Feb. 28th. The next morning Venus will be to the Moon's right or upper right. (See the accompanying graphic.)

Although they look close together, they're not. Venus is currently 400 times farther away than the Moon. It's at a distance of 8.8 light-minutes (the distance light takes to travel that far), compared to the Moon's distance of 1.3 light-seconds. In miles, that's 99 million miles for Venus and just 249,000 for the Moon. (In fact, you may have driven cars enough miles to get to the Moon.)

And despite appearances, Venus is 3-1/2 times wider than the Moon's diameter.

"Why do people care about this?" asks MacRobert. "Because some people know we need to look up beyond our own little world - and recognize where we are as part of nature, part of the universe. So many of us live our busy little ant-hill lives without ever noticing the gigantic universe beyond the anthill. A lot of people don't even know you can see alien planets from your driveway while you're unlocking the car to go to work."

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