STATES CHRONICLE – For months now, planet Venus appeared in the southwestern night sky being brighter than the stars. The planet, sometimes called the ‘evening star,’ appealed every stargazer’s attention compared to the rest of the stars because of its prominence. However, Sirius shines almost as bright as Venus, emitting a bright bluish light.
Sirius is known to be the brightest among all the night time stars. On a winter evening, you can easily spot it to the lower left of the Orion constellation. This winter, next to Venus stargazers can spot planet Mars. Mars is a lot dimmer than Venus, but it is still visible. The planet is situated to the upper left of planet Venus. Mars sheds a red-orange light, while Venus emits a white light.
Strangely, the second planet from the Sun, Venus seems to be close to Mars, which is the fourth planet from the Sun. If you were wondering where the third planet is, then, well, you should realize you are standing on it. During the month of February, Venus reaches its maximum brightness of -5.5 on February 17.
If you love stargazing or you are just curious about Venus’ evolution on the night sky, then you can use a telescope to observe how it gradually appears to be larger while its crescent shape thins. Since Venus is closer to the sun than our planet, it sometimes presents a crescent phase. Venus will slowly slide down the sky when it reaches to be between the Sun and our planet, on March 25.
After that date, Venus will turn into a morning planet. When trying to observe Mars, stargazers may notice that it has a small magnitude, appearing as a small disc through the telescope. The magnitude scale of astronomy can seem tricky. The brighter is the planet or the star, the lower will be the number. Thus, thinking logically, zero would be the value of the brightest star in the sky.
Nevertheless, Sirius’s magnitude is of -1.58. The dimmest star one can see without tools, having the eyes well-adapted to darkness is of about +7. If you try to look at the stars being disturbed by light pollution, you might see +4 or +5, and you should consider yourself lucky.
Image source: wikipedia