Brightest planet Venus’ dominance over the west-southwest horizon at dusk is about to be challenged by a young lunar crescent. New Moon occurs on 23 February, so Northern Hemisphere observers can take advantage of the ecliptic’s currently steep inclination to the western horizon soon after sunset to view the Moon’s rapid ascent into the twilight sky.
While you might just catch a glimpse of the almost 2-day-old Moon very low in the west-southwest around the end of civil twilight (some 40 minutes after sunset for the UK) on 25 February, it will be unmissable at civil dusk on the 26th some 12 degrees below the brightest planet.
Venus and the 3-day-old crescent Moon are closest for skywatchers in the British Isles at dusk on Thursday, 27 February when their angular separation is just 6¼ degrees, hence users of low-power 7×35 or 7×50 binoculars can view this celestial pairing in the same field of view.
If you own a telescope, you can take advantage of the fact that a magnification of almost 100× is all that’s required to enlarge Venus to the same apparent size as the Moon appears to the unaided eye. At a dazzling magnitude -4.2, the planet’s glare and poor seeing might make it difficult to discern Venus’ shape, but with calm air and good optics you’ll see that it appears like a miniature gibbous Moon.
If you succeed in viewing Venus and the Moon closest together at dusk on 27 February against the stars of Pisces, give pause to contemplate that the brightest planet is almost 3½ times the diameter of our 3,474 kilometre-wide Moon, but Venus currently lies 335 times farther away from Earth.