Saturday, April 11, 2015
Two Bright Planets, Two Clusters (11 April, 2015)
This weekend, ifwe are not clouded out, there will be a rather nice conjunction of bright plantes and star clusters.
On Saturday 11 April, Venus is at its closest to the beautiful Pleiades cluster. Venus has been edging closer to this iconic open cluster for some days now, and will be close for a few more after Saturday, but Saturday is when it is at its best. Even under suburban skies the cluster is easily visible to the unaided eye, and will look neat with Venus nearby in binoculars.
Venus is visible from around Sunset, but the Pleiades and Venus will be best around an hour after Sunset. This is a balance between the darkness of the sky and the height above the horizon (the Pleaides will be around a hand-span above the western-horizon at this time.
Over to the north-west is Jupiter, the brightest object in the sky after Venus, it is close to another iconic open cluster, the Beehive. The Beehive is fainter and less obvious than the Pleiades, and may be difficut to see with the unaided eye in suburban settings, but Jupiter and the Beehive will look good in binocuars together.
Unlike Venus and the Pleiades, Jupiter stays within binocular range of the Beehive for a couple of weeks.
So this weekend is a great time to see a rather unusual and beautiful sights, tow bright planets near two iconic (mostly) unaided eye visible open clusters.