England – A magnificent show made by the crescent Moon along with both Venus and Mars took place in British skies right before dawn on September 10. The conjunction between the crescent moon and Venus occurred today at 5:30 am BST on British Isles. Separated by only two degrees from earth’s perspective, it should be really easy to appreciate the early morning show with a simple pair of binoculars.

Observers  may visualize a much fainter Mars before twilight gets too bright due to its location which is 6.5 times larger than the distance between Venus and Earth. The event is expected to extend until October as Venus moves to its current position.

The beautiful scenario will be relatively low toward east, about 15 degrees above the horizon. The sun will illuminate only the 7% of the moon’s surface creating a bright yellow-white light. Also, Venus will shine very brightly through the next few weeks because of its albedo, which is the intrinsic reflection coefficient that every planet owns.

Conjunction of the Crescent Moon, Venus (left) and Mars (top left), 20.02.2015. Credit: Werner Priller

Basically, what Venus’ reflection coefficient does is bouncing the 75% of the sunlight received directly to Earth, resulting in a bright dot in the sky. This happens because of Venus’ conditions which include a permanent cloud layer that does not allow the light going into the planet’s surface.

Currently, Venus is 34.4 million miles from Earth while Mars is 230.3 million miles away. The first, is dazzling at a magnitude -4.5 which is 316 times brighter than Mars that shines at a magnitude +1.8. Venus is a shade over 45 arcseconds in diameter, which means that a 40x telescope magnification will enlarge the image so it could be appreciated to the bared eye. With a clear sky on the east, Mars can be appreciated just ten degrees to the left of Venus.

Source: SPACE