Moon Appears to Eat Venus in New Photos
Venus shines near the limb of the crescent moon during a lunar occultation on May 16, 2010 as seen by skywatcher Joe Chan Yuen Fai in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong. Full Story.
Credit: Joe Chan Yuen Fai

Striking new photos from a skywatcher in Hong Kong show the Earth's moon appear to swallow Venus during a weekend cosmic event.

The Venus and moon photos were taken by skywatcher Joe Chan Yuen Fai on Sunday, May 16 in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, during a lunar occultation ? an event in which the moon obscures a more distant star or planet.

"Seeing both Venus and moon hanging on the sky is not surprising for me, but I was excited by the phenomenon," Yuen Fai told in an e-mail. "The moon ate the planet Venus!"

In the photos, Venus and the crescent moon shine bright after local sunset. But as the night wears on, Venus slowly slips behind the shadowed limb - or horizon ? of the moon. [More moon photos.]

The reflection of light from Earth, known as "Earthlight," fills in some of the shadowed area of the moon, as well.

"At the beginning, Venus and moon were so close to each other. People around me wondered what the bright star hanging above the moon was," Yuen Fai said. "But then the bright Venus became dimmer as it moved closer to the moon, and finally disappeared within a few seconds. ?Around 25 minutes later, Venus appeared at the right hand side of the moon, and they formed a picture which looked like a sickle!"

Yuen Fai said he used a Canon 450D camera with 18mm-55mm and 55-250mm Canon zoom lenses to photograph the moon and Venus.

Venus is not the only planet being visited by the moon in the night sky this week.

Starting Wednesday night, the moon can be seen with Mars, Saturn and the bright star Regulus as it moves across the southwestern sky. This sky map shows how to spot the cosmic sky show, which begins May 19 and ends May 22.