If you are a stargazer, you might want to mark your calendar for April 11, 2023. At dusk, look west, you will have a chance to see Venus shining bright just 5 degrees left of the Pleiades, a beautiful star cluster also known as the Seven Sisters. Venus is the brightest planet in the sky and it will be easy to spot with the naked eye or binoculars. If you have a clear sight of the horizon and head out early enough, planet Mercury will be visible low in the sky and at a prime time for viewing at 19 degrees from the sun.
The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, is a famous star cluster in the constellation of Taurus. It is one of the brightest and most easily recognizable clusters in the night sky, visible to the naked eye in both hemispheres. The Pleiades consists of about 1000 stars, but only a few are visible to the unaided eye. The brightest stars are named after the mythological daughters of Atlas and Pleione in Greek mythology: Alcyone, Asterope, Celaeno, Electra, Maia, Merope and Taygeta.
But that’s not all. Venus is also approaching its greatest elongation, which means it is farthest from the sun on the sky’s dome. This will happen on June 4, 2023, when Venus will be 46 degrees east of the sun and will set about three hours after sunset. At that time, Venus will be 49% illuminated and will appear as a first quarter phase through a telescope.
Greatest elongations are important events for observing the inner planets such as Mercury and Venus. They orbit closer to the sun than Earth. Therefore, it always appears near the sun when the sky is still blue and bright or lower over the horizon, and never overhead at midnight.
If you want to learn more about Mercury or Venus and its position in the sky, you can check out some online resources such as EarthSky.org or SkyandTelescope.org. They have detailed information and charts about Venus’s movements and appearances in the sky. You can also use a free online planetarium program such as Stellarium (what I used for the above screen captures) to see how Venus looks from your location at any time.