Venus and Jupiter will be hanging low in the southwestern sky shortly after dusk over the coming days. A solitary planet that is not expected is often confused with a bright star, but when two appear together the effect is too foreign for that. Even those unfamiliar with the night sky tend to get a feeling of other-worldliness.

Venus is much the brighter of the two, the brightest of all celestial objects after the sun and moon, and will be the first thing that can be seen in the night sky as the sun sets. Venus is so bright that it is in theory possible to see shadows from it on a clear moonless night, but light pollution in the UK sadly makes that very unlikely here. This screen shot is from some excellent software called ‘Stellarium’, which can be downloaded from here. It shows the southwestern sky as it will appear shortly after sunset this evening, with the cardinal points and constellations pencilled in to help.

Stellarium venus and jupiter