Last February 27, the world witnessed how two immensely bright objects came together in the night sky. This rare celestial phenomenon featured Venus and the moon, two of the brightest objects in the sky. But, why were they shining so brightly?
|Credits: Mercury News|
The moon usually takes 29.5 days to orbit the Earth. The new moon occurred on Feb. 23 which meant the visible side of the moon was between the Earth and the Sun. This explains why we couldn’t see them. However, we were able to gradually see the side of the moon illuminated by the sun as the moon moves away from that position on its journey around the Earth. According to Unilad, a British Internet media company and website owned by LADbible Group that provides social news and entertainment, this was visible in the western sky for several days.
Venus, on the other hand, was in the middle of an ‘apparition’ where it was the furthest from the sun. Experts stated that when a planet is at its greatest elongation, its appearance is also best at that point. According to CNN, an American news-based pay television channel owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia, the reason why the planet is as bright as it is is because of its “albedo,” a characteristic use to describe how bright a planet is by specific measurements. The albedo of Venus is close to .7, meaning its thick cloud covering reflects about 70% of the light striking it back into space.
Occasionally, the moon and planets appear closely in the night sky. However, in reality, they are far away from each other. For instance, Venus was actually 84 million miles away from Earth, while the moon was 249,892 miles away during the rare celestial show. But, our Earthly perspective made both of them seem closeby.