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It's back! After a winter sabbatical of sorts, hiding out of sight since the beginning of December, Venus — by far the most brilliant of the naked-eye planets — is back in view. After spending much of 2017 as a morning object, Venus is about to settle in as a prominent "evening star" for the next eight months, becoming a fixture of the western sky.
Our nearest planetary neighbor travels in a nearly perfect circle, orbiting the sun 13 times in eight Earth years, so that, as seen from Earth, it appears to make five circuits around the sky. Each of the eight years in this Venus cycle (known and important to ancient civilizations such as the Maya and Babylonians) has its own particular pattern, so 2018 repeats (within about two or three days of the same date) the phenomena of 2010.
Feb - Larry - Gerstman - Member - Amateur
On Feb. 5, Larry Gerstman, a member of the Amateur Observers' Society of New York, spotted Venus from Long Beach, New York. He wrote:
"I decided to watch the sunset and then hunt for Venus with my 12x40 handheld binoculars with Venus' being less than 5 degrees above the horizon. After watching the last bead of sunset I immediately aimed my binoculars, with a 5.5 degree field of view, up and slightly to the left and there was Venus, easy to see in the binoculars just seconds after sunset at 5:18 PM. I could not see Venus [with my] naked eye, but five minutes later it became even more obvious in the binoculars and I followed it to within a half a degree above the horizon at 5:44 PM."
Week - Venus - Aid - Twilight - Evening
During this upcoming week, Venus should become more evident even without optical aid, very low in the western twilight. On the evening of Saturday, Feb. 24, it sets 8 degrees south...
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