Hubble Space Telescope - NASA

The winter evening sky was dominated by two exceptionally bright “stars” that are actually planets — resplendent Venus, nearest of planetary neighbors, in the west, and regal Jupiter, largest of the planets, in the east. As we enter spring, Venus and Jupiter remain celestial highlights, and will treat us to a special double-feature in mid-April — each planet will be very close to a prominent open star cluster.

As twilight ends this winter, look to the east. You may see a very bright “star” that does not twinkle. This is Jupiter, the largest planet of the Solar System, eleven times the diameter of the Earth.

For this episode of Western Slope Skies from the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, we learn about the planet Jupiter, which can be seen shining bright in the night skies of January.

In our Western skies, three planets are visible with the naked eye or binoculars during February evenings. They are Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury.

This month marks an anniversary for Western Slope Skies. Our first broadcast was in November of 2011 and Jupiter was the topic. Once again this year, Jupiter will be the brightest object in the night sky. It rises in the east during evening twilight in late November.

Autumn is a wonderful time to observe our Western Slope Skies.   While the temperatures are not bitter cold, the nights are getting longer.