The beautiful Crescent Moon will creep over the northeastern horizon at about 3.20am BST on Tuesday morning. As it does so, look immediately to the thin sliver’s right and you will see a very bright source of light. And although at first glance this might look like a star, it is actually a planet.
Stargazers have already caught a glimpse of the duo this week, asking questions about the planet’s identity.
One Twitter user said: “There was an impressive looking Crescent Moon next to a bright star or planet this morning.
“Thought I’d give my new astronomy app a test run to find out what it was.
“It showed me loads of objects thousands of light-years away, but not the moon! Probably only an alien UFO anyway.”
What is the planet next to the Moon tonight?
Many stargazers were surprised to learn the bright light near the Moon is not a star but the planet Venus.
After the Sun and the Moon, Venus is the third brightest body in our skies.
US meteorologist Brandon Spinner tweeted: “Excuse the blurry photo, but take a look at the Moon this morning!
“The bright ‘star’ to the right of the Moon is actually #Venus!
“It’ll be visible again tomorrow, but we will have cloud coverage so enjoy it this AM!”
Another person said: “If you’re up and about and have a clear sky, look to the north east and you’ll see a beautiful crescent Moon low in the sky, with a bright star beneath it.
“That star is actually the planet #Venus, and you’ll be hearing quite a lot about it later today, so go take a look…”
And another US-based stargazer said: “Hey #Denver if you look out East at the moon rising, that bright star below it rising up over the horizon now is Venus.
“If I could coax my body to cooperated go try to take pics. I can see the whole thing through my bedroom window.”
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Why is Venus so bright at night?
The second planet from the Sun is coated in a dense and cloudy atmosphere that makes it incredibly reflective.
According to the California Institute of Technology
(Caltech), the planet reflects up to 70 percent of the light that falls on it.
The University said in its Cool Cosmos series: “Venus is one of the brightest objects in the night sky.
“Venus is so bright because its thick clouds reflect most of the sunlight that reaches it – about 70 percent – back into space, and because it is the closest planet to Earth.
“Venus can often be seen within a few hours after sunset or before sunrise as the brightest object in the sky other than the Moon.
“It looks like a very bright star. Venus is the brightest planet in the Solar System.”
And the planet has been in the news this week for one more, critical reason.
Astronomers have detected a rare gas in the planet’s atmosphere that may have been created by alien microbes.
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