If you haven’t looked at Venus in the evening, you’ve missed something amazing. On March 24 Venus reached its greatest eastern elongation when it was at its closest and brightest, but it’s still extremely bright. Every eight years Venus meets up with the Pleiades Star Cluster, and it’s going to happen April 3 this year.
Although we’ve had a lot of cloudy nights, Sunday the 15th I went out to look at 8 p.m. and the sky had cleared completely. So I kept going out and looking at Venus and everything around it. I finally got to see the Zodiacal light. It was amazing! In early evening you can see Venus it halfway up in the western sky.
The Pleiades star Cluster, AKA the Sever Sisters, is just above Venus right now, and will slowly drop down until they meet April 3. Then it will gradually move down below Venus. They will be very close from March 31-April 6.
This is the most famous and impressive star cluster in our sky. It looks like a fuzzy cloud with stars in it. Actually it’s a large group of stars moving together in space about 400 LY from us. They’re still relatively young hot stars. With the naked eye you’ll see 6. With binoculars you should see 50, and with a telescope you may see all 500.
The Pleiades is actually part of the constellation Taurus the Bull. The 7 Sisters represent 7 daughters of the Titan Atlas in Greek mythology. Taurus was turned into a constellation by the gods to protect the 7 sisters from Orion. The gods took pity on the sisters and turned them into doves. They flew away from Orion and landed in the sky. So the gods placed Taurus to reside between them and Orion to protect them from him.
Taurus the Bull is one of the oldest constellations. There are 13 stars with the top a large V to the upper right of Orion. The very top are his horns and the bottom of the V is his head. Orion’s belt points to his brightest star Aldebaran which is his eye. The Pleiades is just a little past that. Aldebaran is 500 times brighter than our Sun and lays 65 LY from us.
In his V shape face is the Hyades star cluster. It’s the closest open cluster to earth and has about 250 stars that are 150 Ly from us. About 5-10 of its stars can be seen with unaided vision. Taurus also contains the Crab Nebula which is between the top of the 2 horns.
Now that spring is here, the constellations that were in the SE are now in the SW and will soon drop out of our sky. If you look at Venus tonight you may see a very thin moon below it. Each day the moon will rise a little higher and get larger and brighter. After it passes Venus it will start to move to the left and visit Taurus the Bull.
If you get up early in the morning you will see that Mars is just to the right of Saturn and Jupiter is above them. So they basically form a small circle. That will last for a few day.