Venus at night: How to see the RARE alignment of Venus in Pleiades - once every 8 years

Venus is the third brightest body in our skies after the Sun and the Moon. At night, the second planet from the Sun is also the brightest of the planets and is visible to the naked eye. The Pleiades, or Messier 45, is a beautiful star cluster about 445 light-years from Earth.

Sometimes known as the Seven Sisters, there are more than 1,000 stars in the Pleiades, loosely held together by the force of gravity.

On April 3, the two celestial objects will directly cross paths for the first time in eight years, giving stargazers a rare opportunity to witness the astronomical spectacle.

Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi told the Pleiades is already "one of the best gems of the deep sky".

And with Venus thrown into the mix, Dr Masi thinks the cosmic duo will give stargazers worldwide something to smile about during the coronavirus pandemic.


How to see Venus at night together with the Pleiades?

Dr Masi, head of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, will stream live the astronomical conjunction tomorrow (April 3).

The free broadcast will be shared live on YouTube, meaning millions of people who are under lockdown can enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of their home.

Dr Masi: "To bring some joy from this cosmic show to people worldwide, often quarantined to limit the dissemination of COVID-19, the Virtual Telescope will share this celestial treasure with everyone, offering a live view covering the climax of this cosmic hug between Venus and the Pleiades."

The livestream will kick-off tomorrow at 6.30pm BST (5.30pm UTC).

Dr Masi photographed the celestial conjunction when it was last seen from Earth in 2012.

According to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, the planet appears just south of the Pleiades cluster from April 1.

Over the next two days, the planet will cut across the cluster diagonally as it races around the Sun.

Astronomer Bruce McClure of said: "Soon after sunset, in the deepening evening twilight, notice the brightest 'star' in your western sky.

"That’ll be the planet Venus. This world ranks as the third-brightest celestial object to light up the heavens, after the Sun and Moon.

"Given clear skies, you simply can’t miss it at evening dusk.

"As dusk gives way to darkness, look for the dipper-shaped Pleiades cluster near Venus on the great dome of sky.

"Try using your eye alone, or an optical aid such binoculars."

He added: "Remember to bring along binoculars, if you have them, because the moonlight might make it difficult to see this magnificent cluster with the eye alone.

"In a dark sky, however, the Pleiades cluster is quite easy to see with no optical aid."

Because of how bright Venus appears at night, or in the mornings, it is sometimes known as the morning star and evening star.

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