ST. GEORGE — Venus, the evening star, will be nestled just above the moon Monday and is set to shine brighter than any other time of the year — or any other time for the next eight years, to be exact.
Venus is always the third-brightest object in the sky behind the sun and the moon, even brighter than the most brilliant stars. But on Monday night, the planet will be at its brightest and will continue to glow at its most brilliant into the early morning hours Tuesday — an event that will not take place again until 2028.
The planet has been building toward this moment for more than a month, with a slight increase in brightness every day. Once the sun sets on Monday, “the evening planet Venus will achieve its greatest illuminated extent,” according to space.com.
In Southern Utah, skywatchers can view the “planet of love” by gazing westward, where a prominent circle of light, similar to a faraway spotlight, will appear to be beaming back to Earth. It can be seen just above the moon and will reach its brightest just before midnight and will still be visible after sunrise Tuesday, according to Time and Date.
Why Venus outshines them all
Venus is the brightest planet in the night sky and always outshine’s even the brightest stars because of its highly reflective atmosphere, which is also incredibly thick due to runaway greenhouse gases emitted from extreme volcanic activity that has continued across the planet for billions of years.
Moreover, the atmosphere is made up almost entirely of carbon dioxide that is chokingly thick with atmospheric pressure at the surface that is 90 times greater than that of Earth. That’s the equivalent pressure of a mile beneath the ocean.
As a result, Venus’s atmosphere reflects about 70% of the sunlight back out to space as it bounces through the clouds containing sulfuric acid and acidic crystals that linger high in the atmosphere.
The moon, by comparison, reflects only 10% of the light that hits it, and it’s only because of its close proximity to Earth that it appears brighter as opposed to the distance of Venus, which is about 38 million miles from Earth, or 152 times farther away.
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