The brilliant planet Venus shines each evening in the west, leaving most who see it saying "that's not a planet, that's an airplane, isn't it?" For the next two months, its orbit around the Sun is bringing it closer to Earth each day, en route for a rare and exciting Transit on June 5th (for Western Hemisphere viewers).
Nakedeyeplanets.com has excellent charts showing the changing position of Venus in the heavens.
Soon after greatest brilliance, Venus will reverse its course into retrograde motion and begin a slow fade into the glare of the sunset sky as it rapidly closes the gap for its nearest approach to Earth and the June 5th Transit. I'll have more on the Transit of Venus in another article. For now, enjoy the bright shiny object in the west as it holds 'center stage' for all of us.
Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope Magazine.
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