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.
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.
Bottom line: On October 2 and 3, 2016, watch for the young moon and planet Venus to beautify the west after sunset.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.