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Moon-Venus occultation gives a rare treat to sky gazers

NEW DELHI (PTI): A rare celestial show greeted sky gazers on Sunday with crescent Moon occulting gibbous planet Venus in the sky theatre.

The phenomenon was observed in the afternoon sky when the crescent Moon poised directly between the Venus and the Earth, Director of Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) C B Devgun said.

An occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.

In this case, the Moon came directly between Venus and the Earth. Last time the occultation of Venus, popularly known as Goddess of Love, took place in India was on June 18, 2007, and the next one will be on June 30, 2011.

Sky gazers were able to watch the celestial event between 3:30 PM and 5:18 PM. Astro-enthusiasts were seen watching the celestial treat with naked eyes but some used a pair of binoculars for its exact positioning, Devgun said.

At the start of the event, the Moon and Venus were well above the horizon, and the Moon itself at about 30 degrees east of the Sun. The Moon was visible in the western sky with Venus a bit east of it.

As the phenomenon occurred in daytime, one was not be able to see Venus going behind or coming out from behind the moon, but after the sun set, the crescent moon close to bright Venus in the west presented a beautiful sight.

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