Talk about dancing with the stars.
Once every eight years, Venus, the brightest object in the night sky after the moon, passes directly between the Earth and a cluster of blue stars known as the Pleiades. Although the cosmic dance between the two astronomical entities began last night and will continue through Wednesday, the most dazzling view will take place tonight.
While much is known about Venus, the Pleiades, also known as “Messier object 45” or the “Seven Sisters,” are smaller and less renowned, yet still impressive. The Pleiades are thought to have formed less than 100 million years ago. Because they are 400 light years away, the Pleiades can be seen with the naked eye, though this is easiest with the aid of binoculars or a small telescope. Tonight, however, their proximity to Venus will make them plainly visible to the naked eye. According to NASA, Venus will pair with the Pleiades just after sunset, making the sky look as though “a supernova has gone off inside the cluster.”
Just after the Sun drops below the horizon, Venus will be wrapped in the incandescent arms of the Seven Sisters. Stargazers, be on the lookout for this spectacular event tonight.