Venus returns to evening skies this month, shining as the "evening star" quite low in the west at nightfall by month's end. By that time, its only rival in the night sky, brilliant Jupiter, is dropping toward the Sun and getting ready to exit the evening sky. In the meantime, one of the signature constellations of summer, Scorpius, skitters into view in late evening, preceded by the scorpion's long-lost claws, the stars of Libra, the balance scales.
This Week's Stargazing Tips
A pair of hunting dogs chases high across the north tonight. Known as Canes Venatici, the hounds are pursuing Ursa Major, the great bear, which stands below them at nightfall. The bear includes the stars of the Big Dipper.
A new cycle of eclipses begins tonight as the full Moon just dips its toe in Earth’s faint outer shadow, the penumbra. That shadow will cover just about one percent of the lunar disk, but it is so faint that no one will notice the difference.
A beautiful bit of cosmic theater plays out very low in the west-northwest shortly after sunset the next few evenings. The dazzling planets Venus and Jupiter will slide past each other, while a fainter third planet, Mercury, watches from above.
Jupiter is quite low in the west-northwest beginning about 20 minutes after sunset this evening. The bright planet forms a tight triangle with brighter Venus, to its lower right, and fainter Mercury, a bit farther to its upper right.
The planets Venus and Jupiter pose side by side quite low in the western sky shortly after sunset. Venus is the brighter of the two, with Jupiter just to the left.
Mercury is in great view. The little planet is low in the west-northwest at sunset, above the brighter planets Venus and Jupiter. Mercury looks like a fairly bright star itself. It will climb higher into the sky over the next few evenings.
A pretty but faint semicircle of stars crowns the sky around midnight. Appropriately enough, it’s the constellation Corona Borealis, the northern crown. You need dark skies to pick out this stellar tiara.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.