Venus and Aldebaran

Venus and Aldebaran

Two bright lights are passing close to each other in the western evening sky. One of them is impossible to miss, and it points the way to its fainter companion.

The brighter light is Venus, the brilliant “evening star.” It’s the brightest object in the night sky other than the Moon, so you just can’t miss it.

You might mistake it for something other than a planet, though. On one hand, you might think it’s an especially bright star. On the other hand, because Venus is so bright and so low in the sky, it’s easy to think it’s an approaching airplane. And many people report it as a UFO.

In reality, it’s a planet — just in toward the Sun from our own. It shines so brightly because it’s close to us, close to the Sun, and because it’s topped by clouds that reflect most of the sunlight that strikes them.

The other bright light, to the left or upper left of Venus this evening, is Aldebaran. It marks the eye of Taurus, the celestial bull. It’s only about one percent as bright as Venus, but it’s among the 15 brightest true stars in all the night sky.

Aldebaran is dropping toward the Sun, so it’s a little bit lower in the sky each evening. But Venus is climbing away from the Sun, so it’s actually a little higher in the sky each evening. As a result, Venus and Aldebaran will stand side by side tomorrow night. After that, Venus will quickly pull up and away from its companion as it continues its long reign as the dazzling evening star.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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