Belt of Venus

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"Venus's girdle" redirects here. For the marine lifeform, see Ctenophora.

The Belt of Venus or Venus's Girdle is an atmospheric phenomenon seen at sunrise and sunset. Shortly after sunset or shortly before sunrise, the observer is, or is very nearly, surrounded by a pinkish glow (or anti-twilight arch) that extends roughly 10°–20° above the horizon. It is similar to alpenglow as they both are caused by backscattering of reddened sunlight. The only difference is that alpenglow is characterized by afterglow and is a red horizontal band visible just after sunset or before sunrise due to direct illumination of clouds and aerosols low in the atmosphere, whereas the Belt of Venus is a rosy pinkish arch visible long after sunset or long before sunrise, caused by backscattering of refracted sunlight due to fine dust particles high in the atmosphere. In a way, the Belt of Venus is a true alpenglow visible at twilight near the anti-solar point. Often, the glow is separated from the horizon by a dark layer, the Earth's shadow or "dark segment." The arch's light pink color is due to backscattering of reddened light from the rising or setting Sun. A very similar effect can be seen during a total solar eclipse. The zodiacal light, which is caused by reflection of sunlight from the interplanetary dust in the solar system, is also a similar phenomenon.

The name of the phenomenon alludes to the cestus, a girdle or breast-band, of the Ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, customarily equated with the Roman goddess Venus.

ALMA and Chajnantor at twilight. Lying between the two groups of antennas are the Earth's shadow and Belt of Venus phenomena.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ALMA and Chajnantor at Twilight". ESO Picture of the Week. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  • Naylor, John (2002). Out of the blue : a 24-hour skywatcher's guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-521-80925-8. 

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