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During the next week, Venus, the most brilliant planet, will rendezvous with two bright objects. First, on the evening of Monday, July 9, it will slide past one of the 21 brightest stars in the sky. Then, on Sunday evening (July 15), it will make for an eye-catching sight with the moon.
The first celestial meeting will be when Venus aligns with the blue-white star Regulus, the brightest star of the constellation Leo, the Lion. Six stars in Leo form a large backwards question-mark shape, popularly known as the Sickle. Regulus is at the end of the handle. It was one of the four "royal stars" which were supposed long ago to rule over the four quarters of the heavens. On the list of the 21 brightest stars, Regulus is number 21, but at least it's on the list.
Look - West - Pm - Time - Twilight
Look low toward the west around 9:45 p.m. local time. In late twilight, both the planet and star will be readily visible to the unaided eye. The difference between the two is considerable: Venus will outshine Regulus some 158 times; binoculars will enhance the view.
On July 15, 2018, Venus will shine near the crescent moon, with the bright star Regulus nearby, as shown in this sky map.
July - Meeting - Time - Moon - Moon
Then, on July 15, comes the second meeting, this time with the moon. The moon will be 3.5 days past new phase; a slender crescent just 12 percent illuminated, sitting to the right of Venus. For those in the eastern U.S., they'll be separated by just over 2 degrees by mid-twilight. But for those in the western U.S., the view will be more striking, because they'll appear half as far apart.
Regardless, both will attract attention, calling even casual observers to look at them as they descend toward the west-northwest sky, finally setting at around 10:30 p.m....
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