Venus

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.

Venus, Mars, and a thin crescent Moon will create a stunning sight in our early evening sky on February 20.  If skies are clear, find an open spot with an unobstructed horizon and look to the west between 6:15 and 7:00 p.m.   At first you may see brilliant Venus next to a thin, crescent Moon.  As twilight fades, fainter Mars will appear between Venus and the Moon.  Use binoculars for a truly amazing view!        

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


As these early fall days grow shorter, our western slope skies are still dark at 6:00 AM.  So, this is a great time to see a celestial spectacle in the morning without having to get up too early.  From September 29 through October 7 the brilliant planet, Venus, often called the morning star, will be moving past Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo.