Venus Joins The Pleiades Star Cluster


The planet Venus joins the Pleiades star cluster for a beautiful pairing in the evening skies.

After the sun has set, look to the west to see the bright planet Venus. As it gets darker you should be able to see the open star cluster, the Pleiades right above Venus (Northern Hemisphere.) The waxing gibbous moon will be high in the sky. The Pleiades and Venus will remain in view until they set fairly late this evening.

Observers in the Southern Hemisphere will have to look towards the northwestern horizon to see this pairing as it will be low in the sky by the time it gets dark. The Pleiades will be next to Venus. The evening couple will set much sooner after sunset at southerly latitudes

Credit: L. Esposito (University of Colorado, Boulder), NASA: Venus cloud tops viewed by Hubble

Venus now graces our evening skies and will continue to do so until towards the end of May. Venus is the third brightest celestial object in the sky, after the sun and the moon. If you have a small telescope or a good pair of binoculars look at Venus this evening. Since Venus orbits the sun inside of Earth’s orbit, we see Venus go through phases, like our moon. Venus is technically a waning (thinning) crescent right now, though it’ll appear very close to half-full tonight.

The Pleiades’ stars, best viewed during the winter months, are heading into the twilight dusk for the year. The Pleiades is an open star cluster with several hundred stars about 430 light years away. Typically six stars are visible to the naked eye. This easily spotted star cluster has names from cultures around the world including: Parveen in Persian; Tianquiztli in the Aztec tradition, and Subaru in Japan.

Pleiades: Famous Seven Sisters

This Sunday evening, Venus beams below the Pleiades. But be sure to watch on the following evenings as Venus moves right by of the Pleaides star cluster on Monday and Tuesday. By the middle of the week, Venus will be shining above this tiny pattern of stars that we call the Pleiades. Venus and the Pleiades cluster will take stage in a single binocular field of view all through the first week of April 2012.

The bright planet Venus and the open star cluster Pleiades are two of the most recognizable objects in the night sky. Be sure to step outside to see the Pleiades and Venus next to each other in the April evening sky.

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