Sky Power Blog Post #6 — Venus Day

[ You may have seen my earlier blog-ravings about “cross-quarter days”, and except for a couple of NEW illustrations and analogies in this best-yet XQ rave, the following’s the same old stuff — but stay tuned!, for farther below, the NEXT part:  EXCITING SKY HAPPENINGS coming up VERY SOON now!  *** ]

As we approach May Day (about three months since Ground Hog Day — shadows have sure changed a lot since then!), we have another “cross-quarter day” coming — as happens every quarter-year.  This is
when we’re once again about halfway between an equinox and a solstice. Besides Punxsutawney Phil’s big day and 5/1, the other two are Halloween and whatever 8/1 is — (celebrated as “Lughnasadh”? in Gaelic culture).  

Our “cross-quarter” appellation arises thus:  Visualize a circular pie ( pi? hmm?! and m-mm! ), divided into four equal quadrants (of 90 degrees each) by a plus-sign pair of right-angle cuts: where the vertical line goes from December solstice at top (like 12 on a clock face) to June (6:00) at bottom, and the horizontal line connects the March (3:00) and September (9:00) equinoxes.

You can now cut ACROSS those four quadrants (dividing each of them into two identically-shaped octants), by doing another pair of right-angle cuts, rotated at 45 degrees from the first plus-sign pair — so, an X-sign this time.  You end up with an 8-rayed “star” or “aster”isk (as also in “aster”onomy!, or aster flowers like daisies, again with those rays fanning out!) — OR, an octopus ( ! ) pattern.

… ANYWAY, … those last two cuts — the DIAGONALS — point to the four cross-quarter days, (corresponding to the 1:30, 4:30, 7:30, and 10:30 “in-between-cardinal” points on the clock — you know, like NE, SE, SW, & NW, too!).  IN PARTICULAR, this one that’s now upon us (May Day = 5/1 = Workers of the world, unite!) would be at the 4:30 (or SE) angle around the circle and cycle of TIME.  …

+ OK, enough of that, already! ……. What you really need to know about is the dance of brightening SKY DOTS in our evening twilight skies, these coming days and weeks.  I know, I’m abnormally excitable about sky stuff — but always on the lookout for kindred spirits in that pure enjoyment.  

One of my very favorite things is when VENUS DAY happens!  I define that as the first day I can spot Venus with the naked eye in western evening twilight as it’s re-emerging out of the solar glare from having been three months behind / beyond the sun, on the far side of its orbit from us. 


Last eve. (Tues.4/27) I saw it with binoculars, but just couldn’t quite make it out with my (old!) naked eyes yet.  So I think last night was “Venus Eve”, and TONIGHT I’m going to nail it with my bare eyeballs!  (It will have moved farther up and around there, low above the NW horizon, so will be up longer before setting, and will be a bit brighter than yesterday — continuing to brighten for these next few months as it eventually comes to dominate the evening-twilight western sky with its blazing grace.

The reason I so love “Venus Day” is that it heralds a stretch of several nice long months when we again can look to the west after sunset and see Venus up there as such a beautiful part of our visual skyscape.

(Toward the end of that stretch of time, Venus gets so bright that you can see it with the naked eye way up the the bright blue sky, in broad daylight!  I can help you to experience that phenomenon very few other humans have ever had, if you’re interested, when the time comes late this year.  And around that same time, you can also actually see shadowscast by Venus, on dark nights away from artificial lighting!  … Again, gimme a holler! … )

NOTE:  At least for this next week or so, if you want to “try for Venus”, get thee to a clear western horizon if you can (free of buildings, trees, etc.) — ideally the ocean (I’ve been viewing from hills above the Pacific coast of North America) OR some far fields.  AND an added surprise treat is in store for you (which I’ll now “spoil” for you if you read on):  the rarely-seen planet MERCURY!  It now appears a good ways above Venus, not quite as bright, but up in somewhat clearer and darker twilight — and moves quite quickly, from one night to the next (hence that quicksilver moniker)! 

 If anyone out there is actually paying attention to this stuff, feel free to post something to this blog about YOUR viewing experiences (as well as of course any questions / comments about the rest of the “above”)!

Have a happy May Day and Venus Day. Keep your eyes on the sky! ~ Joe

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