April 10th & 11th, 2015: Venus and the Pleiades are converging for a close encounter in the sunset sky.
Photograph by Yuri Beletsky
This weekend, the planet and the star cluster will cross paths only 2o apart. Yuri Beletsky photographed the Seven Sisters +1 on April 9th, just one day before closest approach, over the Las Campanas observatory in Chile
Consider it a mixture of dissimilar things. The Pleiades are elusive. They’re best seen out of the corner of your eye, a pretty little surprise that pops out of the night sky when you’re staring elsewhere. Venus is just the opposite. Dazzling, bright enough to cast faint shadows on a moonless night, it beams down from the heavens and grabs you when you’re not even looking.
In the nights ahead, look west after sunset. Venus pops out of the twilight long before nightfall. As the sky fades to black, you can see the Pleiades, too. The nights of closest approach are Friday, April 10th, and Saturday, April 11th. Bright Venus makes for a stunning contrast against the pinpoint beauty of the star cluster. Observing tip: For maximum contrast, use binoculars.