The blazing planet Venus lines up with the Gemini stars Castor and Pollux shortly after sunset in late June 2013. Look low in the west-northwest to catch Venus, the brightest star-light object in the heavens, about 30 to 45 minutes after the sundown. Then watch for the Gemini stars to pop out near Venus approximately one hour after the sun sinks below the horizon.
If you have binoculars, use them to spot Venus, Castor and Pollux all the sooner in the glare of evening twilight. Venus should be fairly easy to see because it’s the third-brightest celestial object to light up the sky, after the sun and moon. Although Castor and Pollux are respectably bright stars, they pale next to Venus. Venus shines around 100 times more brightly than either Gemini star. Find Venus first, and then seek out Castor and Pollux.
Be sure to catch Venus, Castor and Pollux as dusk is ebbing toward darkness – or approximately one hour after sunset. By nightfall, the threesome will follow the sun beneath the western horizon.
Our feature chart at top shows the line-up of Venus and the Gemini stars as seen from the world’s mid-northern latitudes. The line-up is close to being horizontal at these northerly latitudes.
At mid-southern latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, the line-up is closer to being vertical. It’ll still be easy to see Venus from these southerly latitudes, but spotting Castor and Pollux will be next to impossible. That’s because Castor and Pollux are buried deep into the glare of evening twilight at southerly latitudes.
However, southerly latitudes have a pretty good chance of spotting the planet Mercury near Venus. But even to the south of the equator, you may need binoculars to catch this world in the vicinity of Venus, the sky’s brightest planet. From northerly latitudes, the planet Mercury is probably buried too deep in the glow of sunset to view.
From southerly latitudes, look for Mercury near Venus; and from northerly latitudes, witness the line-up of Venus with the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux.