Mon, 28 Nov 2016
That bright star in the south-west
Venus on 28 November
There have been some lovely clear nights across the UK recently, and lots of people have been commenting about the "bright star" shining low in the sky towards the south-west after sunset. "It's the Pole Star!" some people have said. "It's the space station..." others have thought. Actually, it's neither – it's the planet Venus, currently shining as a beautiful "Evening Star" in the northern hemisphere. And if you think it's bright now, wait until you see how bright it is at Christmas....
You'll be able to spot Venus easily after 5 pm, when it will be a very obvious bright "star" in the south west. You won't even have to look for it, it will just shout out "I'm here!" at you as you look around the sky. But if you like a challenge, start looking for Venus around 4.15, and see how long it takes you to spot the planet shining in the golden twilight. Sweeping the sky with binoculars will help you find it more quickly, but ONLY after the Sun has set. The photo at right was taken using a phone camera a few nights ago.
Once you've found Venus look for a fainter "star" shining to its upper left, at around the ten o'clock position. This is another planet, Mars, and you'll notice it has a reddish-orange tinge to it, especially when you compare it to the silvery spark of Venus.
Added by: Robin Scagell