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CINDY DAY: Venus shows us the way

Michael Boschat took this stunning photo of the crescent moon, Venus and the Pleiades on March 28, from his apartment window in Halifax, N.S.
Michael Boschat took this stunning photo of the crescent moon, Venus and the Pleiades on March 28, from his apartment window in Halifax, N.S. - Contributed

Early spring days are not always the brightest here on the coast and this past week certainly didn’t go against the grain. 

A huge blanket of heavy, low cloud positioned itself between us and sun.  Backyard astronomers didn’t fare any better but that’s about to change and the timing is great. 

This weekend, we’ll be treated to something quite special – something that only happens once every eight years and it will be best seen this evening.

I’m not an expert, but thanks to mom’s love of the night sky, I can identify planets, some star clusters and constellations. One of my favourites is the Pleiades. 

The Pleiades is an open star cluster containing middle-aged stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the star clusters nearest Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. The brightest stars look a bit like a small “Big Dipper.” Even so, it can be tricky to locate.

Look for Venus in the western sky - after sunset but before it sets at 11 p.m. ADT.
Look for Venus in the western sky - after sunset but before it sets at 11 p.m. ADT.

 

Venus to the rescue! One of the easiest astronomical objects to identify in the night sky is the planet Venus - the second planet from the sun and the second-brightest natural object in the night sky after the moon.

Tonight, brilliant Venus will introduce us to the cluster of stars. The Pleiades have another name, which I love - the Seven Sisters. In Greek mythology, they are the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas and the Oceanid Pleione: Maia, Electra, Taygete, Celaeno, Alcyone, Sterope, and Merope.

This showy open cluster contains more than a thousand stars that are loosely bound by gravity, but it is visually dominated by a handful of its seven  brightest members – the Seven Sisters.

This is the perfect time to let the universe remind us of its wonders.



Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network

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