Hope you are all enjoying the clear night skies we have been having. There is so much to see right now: winter stars, planets, and a bonus comet.
Venus is back:
After spending most of the year in the morning sky, Venus is returning to our night sky. If you have a clear view down to the western horizon, you can spy Venus as soon as it gets dark, right near where the sun set. But you have to be quick because she will set early, by 5:45 tonight. On your way home from Shul tonight will be a perfect time to look. Each coming evening Venus will get a little higher and set a little later.
As you practice spotting Venus be on the lookout for Mercury. This elusive planet will pop up next week near Venus and the two will pair for a bright conjunction by Jan 11. There is a beautiful graphic showing the pair dance at http://shadowandsubstance.com/
Comet Lovejoy 2014 is speeding through the southern sky below Orion. This will be a challenge to spot, but with dark skies and binoculars you could get lucky. It is currently at magnitude 5.5 and does not show a tail, even through a medium telescope. But you should be able to see a small fuzzball. See details here .
Now that the winter solstice has passed, we can all look forward to the bright constellations of winter. Enjoy!