Friday through Sunday evening check out a close encounter between planet Venus and one of the brightest stars in the heavens.
Face towards the western horizon after sunset and look for the brightest star-like object about a third way up the sky. That is Venus – also known as the evening star. Once dusk sets in and it gets dark enough look just underneath Venus and you should see a fainter star pop out- Regulus. As an added bonus check out the planets Mars and Saturn too. The three planets are lined up like a row of ducks – quite a sight too!
By Saturday evening Venus-Regulus will be their closest to each other – only 1 degree apart – that is equal to the width of your finger held out at arms length. If you keep watch into Sunday and Monday you will notice Venus moving off towards the southwest – that is the actual motion of Venus in its orbit you can watch happening right before your eyes.
The lead member in the constellation Leo- the lion, Regulus marks the heart of the lion and lies 78 light years away. A hot blue-white star, it is about 3.5 times larger than our Sun and is a young teenager when it comes to star lifetimes at 300 million years old.
It is about 150 times fainter in the sky right now than Venus, yet it is still the 19th brightest star in the entire sky.
Tags: Regulus, Venus
Posted in Constellations, Planets, Stargazing, stars | 214 Comments »