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Moon and Venus next few evenings

Tonight – October 2, 2016 – look for the moon and brightest planet Venus low in the west starting around 20 minutes ( or less) after sunset. If you miss them tonight – and that’ll be easy to do since they’re low in the western twilight sky – look tomorrow night.

Each successive evening will find the waxing moon farther east of the setting sun and staying out longer after sundown. The moon will be shifting up past Venus in the coming evenings.

On October 2 and 3, the gorgeous twosome – the slender waxing moon and dazzling Venus – will follow the sun below the horizon before nightfall at mid-northerly latitudes. In the Southern Hemisphere, the moon and Venus will stay out slightly longer after dark.

Venus has only recently returned from being behind the sun. It hung low in the western twilight in August and September, and is only now beginning to crawl out of the sunset glare.

There’s a bright star in this part of the sky, too. It’s the bright yellow-orange star Arcturus. Click here to find out when Arcturus will set in your sky. The chart below shows Arcturus, the moon and Venus in the October 2 western twilight sky.

Notice how near the horizon the moon and planet are.

Moon and Venus on October 2, 2016. Look as soon as the sun sets! They'll soon follow the sun below the western horizon.

Moon and Venus on October 2, 2016. Look as soon as the sun sets! They’ll soon follow the sun below the western horizon.

Carl Galloway caught Venus about half an hour after sunset. It's bright! But it's low in the sky.

Carl Galloway caught Venus in the west, half an hour after sunset, last week. If you spot it, its brightness might surprise you.

Two other planets appear in the October 2016 sky. They start out higher up in the sky and stay out longer after dark. They are Saturn and Mars. From mid-northern latitudes, these planets may – or may not – pop out before Venus sets. But Saturn and Mars will certainly light up the evening sky for several hours after Venus disappears for the night.

Mars was at its best in late May and early June of this year, but if you see it now you’ll notice how much it’s faded from its former glory. Yet, in a dark sky, Mars still appears very reddish!

Saturn, as always, appears more golden in color. It’s fainter than Mars and rather inconspicuous.

Before the glare of the moon returns to the evening sky, use the planets Mars to find The Teapot.

Before the glare of the moon returns to the evening sky, use the planets Mars to find The Teapot in the constellation Sagittarius.

This photo of Mars, by our friend Tom Wildoner, makes Mars look brighter than Venus (in the photo above). It isn't, really. Venus is brighter!

This photo of Mars, by our friend Tom Wildoner at LeisurelyScientist.com, makes Mars look brighter than Venus (in the photo above). It isn’t, really. Venus is brighter! But Mars is much, much redder. See The Teapot on the left?

Bottom line: On October 2 and 3, 2016, watch for the young moon and planet Venus to beautify the west after sunset.

Bruce McClure

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