Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm


27 Oct 2016
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Brilliant Venus (magnitude -4.0) and fainter Saturn ( +0.5) are 4.5 degrees apart in the southwest at dusk on Nov. 1, but Venus speeds away while Saturn sinks into the solar glare, widening the gap between them to nearly 15 degrees by Nov. 11, and to 22 degrees by Nov. 18. Use binoculars to watch Venus pass background stars in Ophiuchus and Sagittarius on Nov. 4, 16, 17, and 22. Venus sets farthest south Nov. 14. By month’s end, Venus brightens to magnitude -4.2 and is noticeably higher than it was at the start of November. A telescope shows Venus in gibbous phase, 70 percent full at month’s end. Wonderful changes will happen in coming months, before Venus departs from the evening sky in late March. Mercury (magnitude -0.5) passes 3.5 degrees south (to the lower left) of Saturn on Nov. 23, but they’ll both be very low in the…
28 Sep 2016
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On Thursday morning, Sept. 29, a beautiful sight will reward early risers who go out to enjoy the brightening dawn 45 minutes to an hour before sunrise: About 5:45 a.m. in the Coachella Valley that morning, very low, almost directly east, a slender, crescent old moon will be suspended just 2 degrees below Mercury. Other sights in the morning sky through October include Sirius, the brightest star, well up in the south-southeast, and the rest of the Winter Hexagon’s stars—in clockwise order, Procyon, Pollux (and Castor, not shown), Capella, Aldebaran and Rigel, with Betelgeuse inside. Other bright stars include Canopus, very low in the south, the second brightest star (easier to see later in the month, when it reaches its high point, due south, earlier in a darker sky), and Regulus, heart of Leo, the Lion, in the east. The old moon of Sept. 29 is followed by the new…
31 Aug 2016
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Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from west to west-southwest and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5 degrees north of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus, descending in the west, and blue-white Vega, passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb, completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in the south-southwest as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the southwest. The morning twilight sky is rich with stars as the Winter Hexagon, made up of stars from Orion, his Dogs, the Twins, the Charioteer with Mother Goat, and Taurus, the Bull.…