The Moon slides past a trio of bright lights the next few evenings: two planets and a star. The planets are especially bright, so you won’t have any trouble picking them out, even from a light-polluted city.
The first of the Moon’s companions is also the brightest. It’s Venus, the brilliant “evening star.” It’s off to the left of the Moon tonight, and will be even closer below the Moon tomorrow night.
As it leaves Venus behind, the Moon will cozy up to the star Spica, which is well to the upper left of Venus. It’s not nearly as bright as the two planets. Even so, it’s one of the brighter stars in the night sky. And its proximity to the planets, and to the Moon, will make it pretty easy to pick out.
Companion number three will be the planet Jupiter, to the upper left of Spica.
Jupiter usually is the third-brightest object in the night sky, after the Moon and Venus. Right now, though, it has slipped to fourth position. In part, that’s because Jupiter itself is near the bottom of its range in brightness. But it’s also because Mars is shining especially bright right now, so it’s temporarily moved ahead of Jupiter. In fact, you can see Mars low in the southeast, looking like an orange star. But the king of the planets will reclaim its usual spot in a few weeks.
So keep your eye on the southwestern quadrant of the sky the next few evenings, as the Moon passes by Venus, Spica, and Jupiter.
More about the Moon and Venus tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield