SKYWATCH ALERT for Wednesday, March 25

Image Credit: Adam Brown

Tomorrow night, just as the sun is setting, there will be an interesting alignment of some bright objects that you can probably see before the sun goes down.

The moon, which is in its Waxing Crescent phase, will be 0.9° north of the star Aldebaran. That's pretty close! I like to go out before sunset and see when I can pick out the star from the twilight. Aldebaran is the orangish eye of Taurus the bull and the 14th brightest star in the night sky. It's huge! Its size has been estimated at as much as 40 times the diameter of our sun and is 65 million light years away.

Meanwhile, closer to the horizon and almost a straight line from the Moon and Aldebaran, Venus will be shining bright. If you have clear skies and a good view of the horizon, you might be able to see Mars hanging out below Venus. Looking up from the moon and slightly towards the east, you can spot Betelgeuse, the shoulder of Orion. Betelgeuse is the 9th brightest star in the sky and should be an easy one to pick out at twilight. Betelgeuse is between 450 and 600 million light years away (judging distances can be tricky sometimes) and is nearing the end of its life. One day, it will explode as a supernova. Lucky for us, it's too far away to cause Earth any problems.

Here are some screen shots from the Stellarium planetarium software I use so you know where to look. The times at the bottom are in UTC, but don't worry too much about the time. Just go out before sunset and watch the glory unfold.

(Click on the images to make them bigger.)

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