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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Earthsky Tonight —May 3, Can you see Aldebaran near Venus?

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

You should have no trouble spotting Venus after sunset, even though this dazzling world appears quite low in the west at dusk and early evening. Don’t tarry when looking for Venus, for this blazing beauty follows the sun beneath the horizon roughly two hours after sunset.

Venus and Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus, are in conjunction today. Generally, two heavenly bodies do not appear in the same exact spot on the sky’s dome at conjunction. The two astronomical bodies simply appear due north and south of each other, with some space between the two objects.

Venus, the second planet outward from the sun, beams as the third brightest celestial body in all the heavens, after the sun and moon. Although Aldebaran ranks as the 14th brightest star in the sky, Taurus’ first-magnitude star pales next to Venus, with Venus outshining Aldebaran by nearly a hundredfold. In fact, you may need binoculars to see Aldebaran this evening.

Whereas Aldebaran will set with the sun by late May, Venus will continue to light up the evening sky until October 2010. By the way, do not mistake Sirius, that brilliant star in your southwest sky, for Venus. At dusk and early evening, sparkling Sirius lies way to the south (or left) of Venus. Note that Venus exhibits the brighter and steadier light.

Written by Bruce McClure

Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL

CHANDRA Photo Album

U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information center

StarDate Online

Sky and Telescope

National Geographic

Space Com

Amazing Space

The York County Astronomical Society

Scope City

James S McDonnell Planetarium

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