Watching the Skies: Venus takes center stage this week

Watching The Skies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While West Michigan’s notoriously cloudy winter months are a challenge for stargazers, try to take advantage of any clear nights this week to find Venus, which will be at its brightest point of the year.

Venus is typically one of the easiest planets to spot due to how bright it is. You’ll be able to pick it out quickly in the west after sunset. It will stay in the evening sky until early January, though it will be brightest this week. After early January, we’ll begin to notice it shining in the morning.

Venus will help point the way to Jupiter and Saturn after sunset. Jupiter is shining in the south to southwest during the evening, off to the upper left of Venus. Saturn is less bright than both Venus and Jupiter and it is currently located between the two planets. 

Mercury is not visible now, and binoculars may be needed to find Mars. Look to the southeast before sunrise to try to spot it. It will be below the moon Thursday and Friday.

(A photo by Randy Zick shows a halo effect created around the moon caused by ice crystals in cirrus clouds.)

A veil of thin cirrus clouds overhead created a halo around the moon last week. Randy Zick captured a picture of the moon and the halo surrounding it. The halo is caused by the ice crystals in cirrus clouds reflecting and refracting the light.

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