Venus is a bit of a tease this month. The planet is pulling away from the Sun, so it should be putting on a show as the "evening star." Unfortunately, though, its path across the sky is tilted at a poor angle, so Venus is just barely above the western horizon at sunset. You can get a glimpse of it a little after that, but only if you're south of about Kansas City.
Venus has been swinging around behind the Sun for the last few months, so it's been hidden in the Sun's glare. It takes a while for it to move back into the clear.
Venus follows the same path across the sky as the Sun -- the ecliptic. Right now, as the Sun sets the ecliptic tilts at a low angle. So even though Venus is a good distance from the Sun, it's quite low in the sky. It sort of skims across the horizon as it sets.
Mars and Mercury are huddling close to Venus, but they follow the ecliptic, too, so they're also hidden in the twilight.
You can pick out a few objects along the ecliptic, though. There's a thin crescent Moon low in the southwest a little after sunset, with the star Spica to its right. And the planet Jupiter is over in the south. When Venus isn't visible, Jupiter reigns as the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon.
Venus will continue to lurk low in the sky for the next few weeks. It'll climb into pretty good view by next month, with the view improving slowly through the fall and winter.
More about Venus tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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