It’s a three-day weekend for Venus, the focal point, once again, of a changing skyscape. The drama occurs shortly after sunset close above the west-southwest horizon. The dynamic is reminiscent of the mid-July dance of Venus and Regulus as Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion, was poised to set for the season. Tonight, Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Virgin, is seen below Venus: Spica soon to disappear from the night sky.
All summer, golden Saturn was paired with bluish Spica in the southwestern sky at nightfall. Now, Saturn is above and to the left of Venus, following Spica. Their current magnitudes, on a scale where the smaller the number the brighter the object, are: Venus -4.04, Saturn .69 and Spica .96. Accordingly, Venus comes into view about half an hour after sunset and Saturn and Spica appear in the deepening twilight. Sundown this evening will be at 7:20.
Saturday evening’s main celestial event again requires precise timing and a view to the west-southwest horizon. A very slender crescent moon will be at the base of a diagonal column composed of Spica, Venus and Saturn in ascending order. Sunset will be at 7:18, moonset at 8:10, Spica 8:32, Venus 8:46 and Saturn 9:31.
A dramatic and beautiful sight will occur on Sunday, same time same place, when planet Venus and a delicate crescent moon appear side by side, the planet a jewel set close to the curved outer edge of the crescent. Spica is below and Saturn above the duo.
Monday evening finds the waxing (increasing in size) crescent to the left of Saturn. The moon’s next significant relationship occurs on Wednesday when it will appear above Antares the red heart of Scorpius the Scorpion.
To contact Judy Isacoff go to: www.naturesturn.org