The Evening Star
In December the planet Venus graced the western sky shortly after sunset. Aside from the moon, no other object in the night sky shines brighter. Venus always follows or precedes the sun in the same path known as the ecliptic. It’s also called the Evening Star or Morning Star, depending on which side of the sun it’s on. Because it’s an inner planet, Venus is never more than 47° from the sun in Earth’s sky. Anyone who points a telescope at the planet would notice that Venus goes through phases much like the moon. It is fully illuminated when it’s on the opposite side of the sun farthest from Earth. When it’s closest to Earth it turns into a narrow crescent. Galileo first observed the phases of Venus 400 years ago, which helped confirm the heliocentric model of the solar system. I attempted to capture Venus setting over Cloud Peak, but clouds were hugging the tops of the peaks and hid them from view.