Evening Lineup

StarDate: June 27, 2010

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A beautiful lineup of bright planets and stars slants across the western sky the next few evenings. The whole array is in good view by 30 or 40 minutes after sunset, and remains in view until late evening.

The anchor for this lineup is the planet Venus, the brilliant "evening star." It's fairly low in the sky as night falls, but it's so bright that you just can't miss it.

The other members of the lineup are fairly evenly spaced, to the upper left of Venus.

As you move in that direction, the first one you come to is Regulus, the brightest star of Leo. The rest of the lion stretches above Regulus.

Number three in the lineup is the planet Mars. It's the same brightness as Regulus, but it shows a distinctly orange color. Over the coming months, Mars will fade a bit as it drops lower and lower in the sky. But it'll remain in view through about Thanksgiving.

Next up is the planet Saturn. It's about the same brightness as Mars and Regulus, but has a yellower color. It, too, is dropping back toward the Sun, but in a bigger hurry than Mars -- it'll disappear by around Labor Day.

And finally, at the upper left end of the lineup, look for Spica, the brightest star of Virgo, standing high in the southwest. It's about the same brightness as all the other members of the lineup except Venus, and it has a slightly bluish tint.

So enjoy this beautiful evening lineup. And if you need help finding it, we have a chart on our website, stardate.org.

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2010

For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.

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