This week, the 15th brightest star in the night sky, Spica, aligns with the brilliant planet Venus. Perhaps, Mercury will show up for the meeting this week, too!
How to See Venus, Spica, Mercury This Week
Space.com said you'll need to have a clear western horizon to see Venus, Spica, and Mercury. The trio will be visible relatively low in the western sky, especially Mercury, which can be challenging to see in the dwindling twilight before it falls below the horizon. Venus and Spica, the brightest star in the Virgo constellation (really, it's a binary system), will look incredibly near. Still, you could wait a little further to see Spica join the view.
Astronomer Chris Vaughan with the mobile skywatching app SkySafari told Space.com that Venus would be barely found at around 1.5 degrees to the celestial north of (that's a thumb's breadth above) Spica during the closest approach on Sunday evening. The movement, Vaughan said, will allow stargazers to see these celestial bodies simultaneously with binoculars and low-power telescopes.
Vaughan added that Venus would appear first after sunset. But stargazers still need to wait for the sky to darken much more to see the 100 times dimmer Spica with unaided eyes. Begin your search about 8 p.m. local time, he suggested. Before using a telescope or binoculars, he said stargazers should make sure to wait until the sun has completely set.
While Mercury will be noticeable to the lower right of Venus tonight, the vista is only a taste of what the planets and moon will look like later this month. The moon's phase will reach a new moon on Monday night, but it will swiftly transform into a crescent later this week.
Mercury will show up in a meeting near the moon in conjunction on Wednesday. The planet will be seen primarily from the Southern Hemisphere and lower latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere since it happens around 4:18 p.m. EDT when the sun is still up.
The moon will then pass Venus on Friday, providing a potentially spectacular spectacle. They will be visible close to each other in the southwestern sky.
Venus' Relationship With Spica
Californian Bakersfield said each star creates a set of dark absorption lines. Imagine a rainbow with a barcode of dark lines that change in a periodic pattern toward shorter wavelengths, then longer wavelengths, and back to shorter wavelengths, and their movement is in the opposite way of their companion's absorption lines. The changing lines have a four-day duration because that is how long it takes the stars to circle each other.
At a distance of 250 light-years from Earth, Venus and Spica travel in significantly elliptical orbits with an average length of approximately 12.2 million miles between them. That means they blend to look like one object.
The bigger of the two emit more than 20,500 times the energy of the sun, and it is ending its existence soon. The smaller component produces just 2,200 times the energy of the sun. It's a good thing Spica isn't as near to Earth as Venus is, or the planet would be a scorched and miserable place!
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