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CINDY DAY: Earth’s shadow is rising

The Belt of Venus - Brian Gomes
The Belt of Venus - Brian Gomes/Submitted

When you find yourself outside around sunset on a mostly clear evening it’s second nature to look to the west. So often Mother Nature treats us to amazing tapestries of colour as the sun dips below the horizon.

Last Saturday Brian Gomes snapped this amazing photo of the “eastern” sky at sunset. When he showed the picture to his friends they thought it was a sunset picture. The photo was taken at Ferguson’s Cove just after sunset and before moonrise.

Without knowing it, Brian snapped a very cool photo of the elusive Belt of Venus. The belt of Venus is named after the Roman goddess Venus. It’s also known as the anti-twilight arch but that’s not nearly as pretty!

As the Sun sets or rises its light moves through the atmosphere and casts a shadow of the Earth onto the sky. You are, in fact, seeing Earth's shadow. As the Sun sets west of you, the light continues to reflect off the atmosphere to the east, but some of it is blocked by Earth itself. So the lowest part of the atmosphere opposite the sunset is no longer lit up. The Belt of Venus is the thin yet remarkable pink arch just above the Earth’s shadow at dusk and at dawn.

It is best visible when the atmosphere is cloudless, yet very dusty, just after sunset.

We go out to watch sunsets all the time; maybe we should turn away from the spectacular vista in the west and see what's happening on the opposite side of the sky.

Weather facts:

April is not off to a very good start, so let’s bask in March’s numbers for a moment. All things considered, it was a fair month:


Mean temperature: more than 1 degree above normal

Rainfall was low with just a little more than half the normal 87 mm. 

Snowfall on the other hand was above average at 76 cm. We normally get 37 cm of snow in March.

It was closer to 2 degrees above normal across Cape Breton in March. 

Rainfall and snowfall were both very close to normal values.

St. John’s: 

Mean temperature: more than 2 degree warmer than normal

Rainfall totals were 20 mm shy of the average 85 mm and snowfall was down too with only 38 cm of snow compared to the average 57 cm for the month. 


Mean temperature: almost 2 degrees above normal

Rainfall and snowfall were normal with 44 mm of rain and oddly enough 44 cm of snow.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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