Viewed above Tuttington on February 24th just after dusk, the two brightest nighttime astronomical objects and our nearest neighbours in space are captured in this photo.
A new(ish) moon, showing 14.8% of its side facing earth being lit by the Sun. The darker part of the moon to the upper left – not the dark side of the moon which we can never see from earth – is also faintly visible. This is visible because ‘earthlight’ reflects light from the Sun onto the Moon’s surface indirectly. In fact, the usual pattern of the Moon’s surface features can also be faintly seen on the side bathed in earthlight.
The ‘star’ to the right of the picture is actually the planet Venus, roughly the same size as the Earth. The orbit of Venus around the Sun brings it closer to earth than any other planet. It is often called Earth’s twin but it couldn’t be more different.
Venus has a surface temperature of 460 degrees Centigrade, a surface pressure over 90 times that of Earth’s, and an atmosphere containing sulphuric acid and 96% carbon dioxide. This is a lesson for us earthlings not to keep pumping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Can’t imagine there are too many Venusians there to do much about it either!