Bright Things in the Sky

Let Me Show You Them

Maybe if enough of us write about this on our blogs and magazine websites and online newspapers, the woo-woos of the world will think twice before they start calling all the observatories and planetariums in a dead panic over the appearance of bright lights shining in the western sky and assuming that this “mysterious apparition” means that aliens are coming.

Well, I can only hope.

A finder chart for the next few nights. Courtesy
A finder chart for the next few nights. Courtesy

Truth is, you can step out tonight, tomorrow and for the next few nights and see the planets Venus and Jupiter appearing very close to each other in the west-southwestern sky after sunset. This is perfectly normal and nothing to get wiggy about. It happens because planets orbit the Sun and we can see them from the surface of Earth.

And, the Moon gets in on the action, too. On December 1, 2008, folks in the Americas should be able to see a thin crescent Moon just above the horizon, making this an amazingly beautiful triple-play in the sunset skies.

This will be a gorgeous sight, provided the weather doesn’t get in the way. I note that there’s a storm front moving into my area just in time to cover up this blazing celestial display, but that’s not true everywhere. And, it turns out that Venus and the crescent Moon will reprise their act (without Jupiter) on December 31, New Year’s Eve!

So, make a note of this (the finder chart should help you identify what you’re seeing — remember, if you have clear skies and a good view to the west, you should have NO trouble spotting two planets for the next few nights. They’ll be joined on December 1 by the crescent Moon. (As far as I know, there will be NO words in the sky…)

Plan to step outside after sunset on Sunday and Monday and check out the view. It’s worth bundling up for because it will be pretty!  If it’s clear I plan to take a look.


  1. ccp

    Yeah, I imagine it would be out there! It was pretty here tonight — we went to a friend’s for dinner and the sky was very clear. It may be cloudy by the time Monday night rolls around, but we’ll see.


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