Two celestial ornaments eternally dangle inside this photograph.
A waxing crescent Moon shares the evening sky with Venus—a hellish world about 162 million miles (261 million km) from Earth. The colors of sunset bleeds toward the horizon as a cold blue sky sweeps away the remnants of a dying day. The crescent Moon glows from its tilted orbit above the ecliptic, but the magnitude of Venus can never be ignored.
Paula Graham observed this jealous inducing scene from her patio, and photographed the short lived cosmic event. Venus sets relatively early and the Moon will never be in the same place in the sky during two consecutive nights—its continuous orbit around Earth drags it eastward opposite the Sun (until the Moon reaches full).
Paula’s photograph proves why eclipses only occur during special occasions. You can somewhat see the Moon is titled with respect to the ecliptic. If the Moon’s orbit happened to be aligned with the ecliptic, then we’d experience two eclipses every month. But…we don’t see two eclipses every month.
Why? I’m glad you asked! Because the Moon’s orbit is NOT perfectly aligned with the ecliptic. Duh. Simple. Paula proved it. Sort of.
Interested in ascending nodes? Click here and journey down the rabbit hole.
And another thing.
Venus is, like, ummm, really far away, especially compared to the Moon. We all can agree on that. Despite the mega difference in distance, Venus can still hold its own against the Moon’s radiance. Sure. The Moon is closer than Venus, but doesn’t that make the comparison more impressive? Imagine how bright Venus would be if the planetary goddess were few a million miles closer. You’ll really have to imagine. I’m not intellectually qualified to assert an educated guess. Sorry.
But…I heard through the grapevine that it’s possible to calculate hypothetical apparent magnitudes, using the handy-dandy inverse-square law! But….I’m too lazy. Or stupid. I’ll let you decide.