Moon, Venus and Saturn after sunset

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Tonight – November 1, 2016 – and in the next few evenings, look for the moon and the planets Venus and Saturn in the sky some 45 minutes (or less) after sunset. The moon and Venus rank as the brightest and second-brightest celestial bodies, respectively, after the sun, so they can actually be seen in the glow of evening twilight, although the moon is very low in the sky on November 1.

As dusk gives way to nightfall, look for the planet Saturn to pop out close to Venus.

This month – November 2016 – you’ll see why the word planet means wanderer. Venus will move away from the setting sun all month long, while Saturn will fall sunward this month. Saturn will fade from the evening sky by the month’s end, while Venus will remain an evening “star” for months to come.

So see them together now! For the next several days, at dusk and nightfall, the waxing crescent moon will be climbing upward after sunset.

Here is last night's young moon - October 31, 2016 - with only 1.5% of its surface illuminated, via Hector Barrios in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Here is last night’s young moon – October 31, 2016 – with only 1.5% of its surface illuminated, via Hector Barrios in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Day by day, the waxing crescent moon will climb higher up in the sky at sunset and stay out longer after dark.

Day by day, the waxing crescent moon will climb higher up in the sky at sunset and stay out longer after dark.

In the coming evenings, the moon will be climbing toward the red planet Mars, which is also nearby. On November 1, an imaginary line from the moon through Saturn points in the general direction of Mars. See the chart below.

Look for the moon to partner up with Mars on November 5 and 6.

And, by the way, if you’re blessed with a dark sky, you might also see The Teapot star pattern – a well-known asterism in the constellation Sagittarius – in between Venus and Mars, as depicted on the sky chart below. The Teapot marks the approximate direction to the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

In a dark sky, you might even be able to catch The Teapot in between Venus and Mars.

In a dark sky, you might even be able to catch The Teapot in between Venus and Mars. The moon will be near Mars on November 5 and 6.

Bottom line: On November 1 and 2, 2016, look for the waxing crescent moon to join up with Venus and Saturn as soon as darkness falls. Then watch day by day as the waxing moon shifts upward in the sky after sunset.

Bruce McClure