Moon Occults Venus Midday Dec. 7

On Monday, December 7, 2015, you can observe a waning crescent moon occult Venus during the day. As the sliver of moon apparently moves left toward the sun, the moon's faintly illuminated edge will glide in front of the planetary disc for almost half a minute until Venus is fully obscured. The planet reemerges from behind the moon's other side (dark and not discernible by day), with Venus seeming to appear out of nowhere.

[Added Nov. 22: For details and diagrams for observers in South Bend, IN, see my blog post Venus Gets Mooned.]

You'll need binoculars or a telescope to see the occultation best, so be cautious about the present sun. However, with the moon at 13% illumination and bright Venus at magnitude -4.2, you should be able to see the phenomenon in the daytime sky, especially the reappearance. While you've got the scope set up, have a proper solar filter on hand so you can peruse the sun for sunspots while you're waiting for the planet to reappear. For current satellite images of the sun and its surface features, see Spaceweather.com.

From the perspective of South Bend, IN, the occultation begins around 12:20 p.m. EST, and Venus begins to reappear around 1:34 p.m. For times at other locations, see updates at Sky & Telescope magazine.

Note: The images above depict the sky as black and the dark side of the moon as visible, but in reality the sky will be blue and the dark side of the moon will not be visible by day. The deeper blue your sky, the better your viewing. With Venus and the moon this close to the sun, though, expect a bright background sky that nearly overwhelms the moon/planet pair.

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