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The two brightest objects in the night sky are getting cozy and the union couldn’t be easier to spot

Nicole Clausing  – February 27, 2020

Look up tonight for a rare treat: The moon and the bright planet Venus will be in conjunction, appearing unusually close together in an eye-catching light show.

The two celestial objects aren’t actually anywhere near each other, but they will appear that way from our earthly perspective. This is an easy light show to see, as it involves the two brightest objects in the night sky, and is at its best early in the evening. 

If your skies are clear, and you have a view of the southwestern sky, you can’t miss this bright pair. Look to the sky just after sunset and you’ll see an elegant crescent moon. Venus will be at almost the exact same height in the sky, and 6.5 degrees to the right. How far is that? Clench your fist and hold it out at arm’s length. Your hand now covers about 10 degrees of sky. Venus, then, will be the point of light that looks like a bright star just a few fingers’ width away from the moon.

This unusual pirouette between Venus and the moon is one astronomical event that’s best seen without any special equipment—a telescope or even binoculars will probably narrow your field of view too much. If you do have a telescope, though, a glance at Venus will reveal a quirk that not everyone realizes about our sister planet: It has phases just like the moon. Even a small instrument will show Venus as slightly gibbous, or just over half-full tonight.

If you miss tonight’s event, not to worry. Winter and spring are great times for stargazing generally, and Venus in particular is dramatic right now, appearing at its maximum height and brightness in the early evening sky. And it will meet up with the moon again on March 28 for a repeat of tonight’s duet.