Venus Has Its Brightest Night Of The Year - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Venus Has Its Brightest Night Of The Year

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NBCNEWS.COM - Venus is a dazzler in western skies after sunset — and this weekend, the planet is about as bright as it can get.

Venus is an unusually bright evening star this month because it's swinging toward Earth in its orbit: That means its apparent size is increasing, and it's still at an angle that reflects a healthy fraction of the sun's rays. EarthSky's Bruce McClure lays out the geometry behind Venus' greatest illuminated extent. Don't wait too long: Every night, Venus will be lower in the sky when the sun sets, and by January it'll be lost in the sun's glare.

Astrophotographer Brad Goldpaint took advantage of Thursday's Venus-moon conjunction to snap a lovely picture of the celestial lights, framed by a natural arch in Nevada's Valley of Fire. Despite the chilly evening temperatures, "it was an amazing experience to witness in clear skies," he said. If you look closely, you might be able to spot the glow of Las Vegas' Luxor Hotel and Casino rising up from the horizon within the arch, Goldpaint said.

Like Venus, Goldpaint is going through some major changes: He has downsized his possessions and taken to the road in an RV to document the night sky and present a series of photo workshops in alluring Western locales such as California's Joshua Tree National Park, Utah's Arches National Park, Crater Lake in Oregon and Glacier in Montana.

"We're doing this to reconnect people with the beauty of the night, and show people how to photograph it like I do," Goldpaint said.

 

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