UPDATE: August 5, 2009: I broke with my habit of putting updates at the bottom in this case, because it is *not* Venus anymore. At this time of the year for 2009 it is actually going to be Jupiter.
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.
UPDATE: December 29, 2008; See this post for more recent information