Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
Our sky chart shows the western sky for early evening. The slender waxing crescent moon sits between the blazing planet Venus and the Pleiades star cluster. To the moon’s upper left shines the ruddy star Aldebaran, the brightest in the constellation Taurus the Bull.
You should have little trouble spotting Venus, the third brightest celestial object to light up the heavens, after the sun and the moon. However, you might need binoculars to see the dipper-shape Pleaides above tonight’s moon. While you are at it, zoom in on the lunar terrain and wander upon the moon’s dark side. You will be enchanted by the wonderful soft radiance called earthshine – sunlight that is reflected by the Earth and back to the moon.
At the same hour on every April 16, the Pleiades, Aldebaran and all the stars return to almost the same spot in the sky. Although solar system bodies such as the moon and Venus do not return to the same spot annually, the moon and Venus still exhibit recurring cycles. The moon returns to nearly the same place in the sky at this time and date in cycles of 19 years, whereas the planet Venus does likewise every 8 years.
Written by Bruce McClure