Jupiter and Venus are brilliant morning stars – they stand out as super-bright points of light and are not only easy to identify, but impossible to miss – and they will be dancing with the much dimmer planet Mars and a beautiful crescent Moon over the next few days. [Venus is lower and brighter, Jupiter is higher and slightly south, while Mars is smaller and yellowish-orange between them. The Moon is waning, so it will appear slimmer and more delicate each morning.]
On April 19th, the waning Moon is above and to the right of Jupiter. Venus is dazzling below and to the left. On April 20th a slightly slimmer Moon moves down and to the left of Jupiter, and by April 22nd the Moon drops even lower and actually “occults” or eclipses Venus as it passes in front of her. (I’m not 100% sure we will be able to see the full occultation from our latitude here in southwestern Colorado, but I’m looking forward to finding out!) Also take note: the Lyrids meteor shower is peaking, so keep your eyes on the lookout for “shooting stars”!
I know not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am about star and planet watching, but the opportunity to witness such a beautiful, magical celestial event doesn’t happen everyday, and seeing it is something you will never, ever forget or regret. Hopefully, the seductive energy of Venus, the magnanimous spirit of Jupiter, the motivating power of Mars and the nurturing embrace of the Moon will pull you out of bed and in to the cosmic whirl. Happy stargazing!