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Venus in The Pleiades
April 03, 2020
As Venus continues its rise in the evening sky through the end of this month, it will travel through many constellations. Tonight, Friday, April 3rd, it will be in the middle of the Pleiades star cluster. The brightest of all the open star clusters. Of course, Venus will outshine the Pleiades by far, so the best way to see the planet AND the star cluster together is to use binoculars or a telescope. After dark, look high to the west. You’ll see a bright point of light that almost looks bright enough to be an airplane, but it doesn’t appear to move. That’s Venus. Look at it under dark skies, and you may see the Pleiades behind it, but use binoculars or a telescope for a better view.
If you do use a telescope, you may notice that Venus appears crescent-shaped. Because it’s between the Sun and the Earth, we can only see the hemisphere that’s illuminated by the sun. As we move further into April, and on into May, the part of Venus we can see will continue to get smaller until late May when it disappears in the glare of the later evening sun.
Of course, the star cluster it’s joining tonight is plenty to appreciate as well. Six or seven stars visible to the naked eye becomes over a hundred when viewed through a telescope. The stars of the Pleiades are hot, which we can tell by their bluish hue. They’re very young too--just about 100 million years old. A mere moment in the cosmic timeline.
So tonight, look west for the brightest planet in the sky as it moves through the most famous star cluster of all time.