Stunning Photo: Luna Snuggles With Goddess of Love

The crescent moon and Venus shine through a natural rock arch in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, after dusk on December 5, 2013. Credit: Brad Goldpaint, goldpaintphotography.com

The waxing crescent moon appears to play peek-a-boo with the planet Venus through a natural rock arch in this dramatic snapshot taken in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Sky-watchers this week got to see Earth’s lone natural satellite glide past the second planet from the sun in the southwestern skies. The two worlds appeared to reach their closest in the sky (known as a conjunction) at dusk on December 5, when this photograph was taken. At the time the two brightest objects in the night sky were separated by only 6 degrees—little more than the width of your fist at arm’s length.

As of Friday, December 6, the moon will appear to have risen higher in the evening sky, to the far upper left of Venus.

“My goal was to capture a conjunction of the crescent moon and Venus against the backdrop of ancient red sandstone formations,” explains astrophotographer Brad Goldpaint in an email to National Geographic News.

“Barely visible to the right of the moon is a shaft of light penetrating the night sky from the Luxor Casino in Las Vegas.”

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Changing Planet

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.