The Belt Of Venus

There are astronomical phenomenon that you can observe on most any clear morning or evening if you have a clear sunset or sunrise. Observing them at sunrise means getting up at an hour that’s way, WAAAY before I want to be awake, so let’s talk about sunset!

While the sunset in the west might look great, take a peek behind you just a minute or two after the sun sets. You’ll often see something called the “Belt of Venus,” with a dark, shadowy band at the horizon about as wide as your hand held horizontally at arm’s length, with a broad, diffuse pink band above it.

This was a particularly good apparition of the effect about ten days ago. Through the trees to our east on a wide-angle view, the blue-gray belt at the horizon was quite clear. That’s the Earth’s shadow, rising as the sun is setting opposite it.

Above it you can see the pink glow of refracted sunlight through the atmosphere, the sunlight being bent from the sun below the horizon behind us and spread out, similar to how a rainbow is created.

This is not a small effect needing a telescope or binoculars. It’s literally 180º wide or more!

So the next clear sunset (or sunrise, in reverse order, for the masochists in the group) take a look and impress your friends with your newfound meteorological knowledge!

You do go out and watch the sunsets with your friends, don’t you?

2 Comments

Filed under Astronomy, Photography

2 responses to “The Belt Of Venus

  1. You know, I’ve never really understood what it was, because it seemed just… there. Why was it even worthy of a name? But thanks for clearing this up for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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