Given clear skies, there’s no way you can miss Venus, the third-brightest celestial object after the sun and moon.
Because Venus is a planet and not a star, this world isn’t a permanent resident of Taurus. It’s only a temporary visitor. In fact, the word planet means “wanderer” because the ancients noticed that Venus and all the planets move relative to the fixed backdrop constellations of the zodiac.
You can notice this movement, too. July 2017 is a good time to try.
If you watch Venus in the morning sky throughout July 2017, this planet’s change of position in front of the constellation Taurus will become obvious. Venus will pair up with Aldebaran by middle July. Then, as August comes along, Venus will depart from the constellation Taurus to enter the constellation Gemini.
In ancient times, astronomers charted the movement of Venus by noting its change of position relative to bright zodiacal stars, such as Aldebaran. Amazingly enough, the ancients found that Venus returns to the same place in front of the background stars in cycles of 8 years. So 8 years from now – in July 2025 – you can watch Venus follow nearly the same path in front of the constellation Taurus the Bull that this blazing planet will take in July 2017.
Bottom line: If you watch Venus throughout July 2017, you’ll easily notice its change of position in front of the constellation Taurus, with its bright star Aldebaran and noticeable Pleiades star cluster.
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.