Bright star in the south


Ok, I admit I’m pandering to the search engine gods here… but from time to time I look at what search terms brought people here.   Since mid June it appears that people are looking for information on a bright star in the southern sky.

As any of you who are passingly familiar with the night sky have no doubt already surmised, the unusually  bright object in the southern sky is not a star, but is instead the planet Jupiter.

If you get out early enough in the evening, just as the stars are coming out, look to the west, and you’ll also see Mars and Saturn just before they set.

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UPDATE: December 29, 2008;  See this post for more recent information

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2 thoughts on “Bright star in the south

  1. On Dec 28, 2008: I saw a beautiful bright sparkling star (planet Jupiter or Venus) in the South West sky. All of the stars were visible in the midnght blue clear sky. It was amazing; next time I’ll take a photo.

    • Hi Marg;

      There are actually four planets visible in the South-West just after sunset. The brightest is Venus, which right now is blazing away at Mag -4.30 (almost 4 times as bright as the brightest star, Sirius). Right next to Venus (about 2 degrees away to the south) is the very faint Neptune ( Mag 7.95, you’ll need a scope to see it ). 25 degrees further down to the East, making a dive for the horizon is Jupiter at Mag -1.89, and Mercury at Mag 0.66.

      Tonight a small crescent moon (5%, 2 days old) will give you a guidepoint to find the planets. Venus and Neptune (easy, because Venus is so bright) will be above the moon. Jupiter and Mercury will be close together below the moon.

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