Observers Delights for the Week: Venus, Mercury, Comet Lovejoy

For Christmas I was given a green 200 mW laser! A couple of AAA batteries later and the laser can point out any star or object in the night sky, with the beam clearly visible the entire way up to infinity.  Its the epitome of an Astronomer’s toolkit, at least in my eyes, and it got me thinking about all the amazing things you can see in the sky right now.  It also makes me feel like I’m brandishing a light saber, and sadly it’s about as close as I’ll ever get.

First off, Venus is back in the evening sky, an absolute delight for anyone to ask ‘What the heck is that bright star up there?’  At magnitude -4, it’s brighter than any star by a long shot, and clearly visible after sunset.  It’s also rising higher and will be even more visible as the months pass.  It is currently being joined by the elusive Mercury, which usually stays low to the horizon near the Sun, but with good eyes and a clear horizon you will get a good peek at it.

Relative sizes of Venus and Mercury. Credit: Bob King Universetoday.com

The other go-to object right now is the magnitude-4 Comet Lovejoy.  Passing through Taurus currently, it is naked-eye visible as a fuzzy ‘star.’  If you do your homework, it won’t be hard to see before you freeze solid in the current Canadian cold spell (we just call it Winter).

Credit: Bob King, Universetoday.com

Clear Skies to all, and to all a good night! Stay warm and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

PS Sorry to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, I know you won’t be able to see the comet.

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