Take a look over to the west today about 30 minutes after sunset and you could see three of the five visible planets just above the horizon. If the skies are clear you should be able to spot Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus shining through the evening twilight. Mercury will be the toughest to spot since it is the planet closest to the sun and from our earthly vantage point only reaches a 28° maximum angle from the sun. Currently, Mercury is heading back toward the sun, so it’s becoming doubly-tough to spot in the evening sky. The brightest of the trio will be Venus. Currently, Venus is moving away from the sun and over the next couple months the planet will become the dominant object in the western night sky. Due to Jupiter's slower orbital period it is becoming lost in the glare of the sun and will be gone in the next few weeks, so catch it while you can. And while you are out take a look up and to the left (for readers in the Northern Hemisphere) and you’ll see the other two visible planets shining brightly in the southern sky. Saturn and Mars currently form a straight line with the star Antares. Happy looking!
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at email@example.com