Three planets bracket the late-evening sky right now. All three of them are quite easy to pick out -- one because it's especially bright, and the other two because they're part of a nice, tight grouping.
As night falls, look in the west for a short diagonal line of three bright objects. From left to right, these pinpoints of light are the planet Saturn, the star Regulus, and the planet Mars. Saturn is the brightest member of the group, and shines with a slightly golden hue. Mars has a stronger color -- bright orange. Regulus shines white, although next to its companions, it may look a little blue.
This trio will bunch up even tighter over the next few nights. Mars is moving eastward at a pretty good clip right now -- toward Regulus and Saturn. It'll catch up to Regulus by the end of the month, and Saturn in early July.
A little later in the evening, as the trio drops lower in the west, look in the southeast for the third planet, Jupiter. As it rises, it's the brightest object in the sky, so it's hard to miss. It shines with a brilliant cream or ivory color.
In fact, Jupiter is putting in its best showing of the year here in early summer. It's brightest for the year, too, and it's in view just about all night.
Saturn, Regulus, and Mars are dropping closer to the Sun each evening, and will disappear in the Sun's glare by early August. But Jupiter will remain in the evening sky through the end of the year.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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