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The brightest planet Venus is now easily visible in the evening sky from most parts of the World just after sunset. With a magnitude of -3.9, the second planet from the Sun is hard to miss as it dazzles in the evening twilight. At the start of December Venus sets about one and a half hours after the Sun, increasing to three hours by months end.

On the evening of the 26th December there is the opportunity to catch Venus close to a very slim crescent Moon. When viewed from London at latitude of 51.5N, the 4% lit two day old Moon will appear 9.5 degrees to the SW (right) of Venus. Both objects are visible low down in the southwest, about 10 degrees above the horizon 1 hour after sunset.

Venus and Moon - December 2011 Northern Hemisphere view

Venus and Moon - December 2011 Northern Hemisphere view - pdf format

The following evening, the Moon has now moved to lie above Venus and is about 10% lit. For telescope observers the phase of Venus is 84% with an angular size of 12 arc seconds.

An observer from Sydney (latitude 34S) looking towards the southwest one hour after sunset on December 26th will see Venus located about 14 degrees above the horizon with the Moon only 1 degree high. Twenty four hours later and the Moon will now be much healthier 9 degrees high.

Venus and Moon - December 2011 Southern Hemisphere view

Venus and Moon - December 2011 Southern Hemisphere view - pdf format

Caution

As always please use EXTREME CARE when using binoculars during daytime or twilight. Please make sure the Sun is below the horizon and don't look with binoculars at the region of sky where the Sun has just set. The golden rule is NEVER look at or near the SUN with any type of optical instrument, as it will cause irreversible EYE DAMAGE.