Venus and Mercury are appearing super bright in the sky tomorrow. And a micro New moon will also debut on Tuesday, during conditions described as “perfect” for stargazing.
Venus has had an intriguing start to 2020, with the fiery work burning extraordinarily bright for months.
This week, the Sun’s nearest neighbour reaches its peak as Venus appears reaches its furthest point from the Sun.
And in a moment of remarkable serendipity, Tuesday also sees Mercury doing something similar.
However, there are a few important points you need to know, in order to make the most of this week’s “cosmic coincidence”.
Here is how to see the solar system’s two inner most simultaneously reach their greatest angular distances from the Sun.
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How to see Venus this Tuesday:
Stargazers peering southwest during dusk will be rewarded with a view of Venus sitting high in the sky immediately after sunset.
Venus will this Tuesday reach its greatest elongation east.
This is the technical term for the peak” of its current apparition
And at 46.1 degrees distant from the Sun, this is about as far away as Venus ever gets.
How to see Mercury this Tuesday:
The planet Mercury coincidentally also moves far from the Sun on Tuesday, from Earth’s perspective.
This is a more common event than Venus’, as Mercury continually travels back-and-forth from our morning sky to our evening sky.
Mercury only takes only 88 Earth-days for the tiny planet to orbit the Sun.
However, Mercury rarely gets high enough above the horizon to see, but stargazers who awake before sunrise on Tuesday can catch the planet 27.8 degrees above the eastern horizon.
This is the tiny hot planet’s greatest elongation west.
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How to see the micro New Moon this Tuesday:
The moon will reach its furthest point away from the Earth in its elliptical orbit this week, in a rare event called a micro Moon.
A micro Moon is the opposite of the Supermoon, when the Moon appears bigger and fuller in the sky than normal due to its proximity to Earth.
This New Moon phase will be the furthest distance the Moon will reach from Earth this year, at 252,694 miles (406,672km) away.
Coinciding with the New Moon – the start of its elliptical orbit – the Moon will be totally invisible in the sky on Tuesday, 9.28am GMT (5.28am ET).
This means the nights either side of the New Moon will be especially dark, offering the perfect conditions for stargazing.
The Moon orbits an elliptical path, meaning one side is closer to the Earth than the other.
The closest point in the orbit is the perigee, creating an unusually large Supermoon, while its farthest point is called apogee, creating a micro Moon.
Because a micr Moon is further away, it looks around 14 percent smaller than a Supermoon, and as its illuminated area also appears 30 percent smaller, so it tends to look less bright.
Micro Moons are approximately seven percent smaller than an average Moon size, while Supermoons are approximately seven percent larger.
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