Mercury and Venus are called inferior planets, because these worlds orbit the sun inside Earth’s orbit. In fact, there’s a 1st-magnitude star in the vicinity of Mercury and Venus on the sky’s dome, named Spica. Cars pulled over on freeways so drivers could take pictures. What in the hell is going on? What was that weird light in the sky over California? It was a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched at Vandenberg Air Force Base about 150 miles north of Los Angeles in Lompoc at 5:27 p.m. Image via UCLA. Mercury is more easily viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, where it rises well over an hour before sunrise. | On November 6, before the moon was sweeping through the scene, Tony Everhardt caught Venus shining like a beacon in the east before sunrise. Start your day with the news you need from the Bay Area and beyond. The Los Angeles Fire Department issued an advisory that the “mysterious light in the sky” was from the rocket launch. But no, both of these inner worlds are showing a waxing gibbous phase, not a waning crescent phase. The phases of Mercury and Venus helped to bolster the Copernican model of a sun-centered solar system. On the other hand, superior planets – planets that orbit the sun outside Earth’s orbit – are always full or nearly full. Thanks for sharing. Plus, the moon’s illuminated side more closely points to Mercury than to Spica on November 11, 12 and 13. ... Giants and the Seattle Mariners / USA TODAY ... California … When the waning crescent moon passes close to Venus and then Mercury in the next few days, you might expect these planets to exhibit a similar phase. A SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base lights up the sky 250 miles north for this view from Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. The illuminated or daylight side of the waning moon always points eastward, or in the direction of moon’s orbital motion around Earth. Pictures of the red and orange skyline flooded social media as some reported oversleeping because the sky was so dark. Order yours before they’re gone! The same rocket carried Iridium satellites into orbit in June. Hide Caption 56 of 124 (Actually, the moon doesn’t swing close to these planets in space, but closely aligns with them on the sky’s dome.) Conditions were so clear that the light traveled far and wide, perplexing commuters and others who glimpsed the ghost-like sight. Sign up for our new Morning Report newsletter. #UFO pic.twitter.com/HOimrsFEqB, — Isidro (@Cabezadepollo_) December 23, 2017, Trippiest thing I have ever seen in the sky west of me just now. San Mateo: ‘High-risk’ sex offender arrested in connection with attempted rape of child, Federal death penalty decision on accused Oakland cop killers won’t be made until Biden/Harris administration takes over, Motorcyclist killed after driving off San Mateo County cliff, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom sets dates for ‘Holiday in the Park Lights’. What was that weird light in the sky over…, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Rain will make a rare appearance in parts of Bay Area on Friday. When Galileo first observed Venus in the early 1600’s, the phases of Venus provided conclusive proof that Venus orbits the sun instead of Earth. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you should also see the orange star Arcturus, to the left of the planets and moon. Look eastward before daybreak – November 11, 12 and 13, 2020 – to see the waning crescent moon with the planets Venus and Mercury. The Hawthorne-based rocket maker launched ten Iridium NEXT communications satellites bound for low-Earth orbit. Click here to find out about the Taurid meteor shower. View at EarthSky Community Photos. Did you see that ethereal bright white cloud stream across the skies just after sunset on Friday night? Calls came in to TV stations as far afield as San Diego, more than 200 miles south of the launch site. Bejhan Razi, a senior building inspector in Mill Valley, California, checks out repairs on a lamp-post clock as the sky is illuminated by nearby wildfires. Sky News - First for Breaking News, video, headlines, analysis and top stories from business, politics, entertainment and more in the UK and worldwide. Each day, at the same time, note the change of the moon’s position, relative to the backdrop planets and stars of the zodiac. Mercury and Venus show a crescent phase when they’re on the near (Earth) side of the sun, and a gibbous phase when on the far side of the sun. Get Morning Report and other email newsletters. What is it???? Venus in the center and Arcturus to the left if I’m not mistaken.” That’s right, Tony, Venus and Arcturus! Although Venus outshines Mercury by over 20 times, Mercury is nonetheless brighter than a 1st-magnitude star right now. Smoke. Mercury won’t turn into a crescent again until late January 2021, and Venus won’t do so until November 2021. Observe also the beautiful soft glow of earthshine on the dark or nighttime side of the moon. In fact, there will be a 1st-magnitude star near Mercury on the sky’s dome: Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden.
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