Challenge: Venus’s Neighbor

Venus and Nunki

This week, you can’t miss Venus low in the southwestern sky as the day turns into night. It is easily visible by 5:00 pm Central time and brighter than airplanes.

Your challenge, however, is to find a star that is diagonally to the upper left of Venus. It’s right at the limit of city visibility, but with a clear sky and some patience, you should be able to spot it. This star is Nunki (also known as Sigma Sagittarii), the second brightest star in the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer. Typically, we city dwellers wouldn’t even know it was there, but its proximity to Venus makes it easier to find.

Over the next few days, Venus will actually move ever closer to Nunki. On November 18, the two will be almost in the exact same spot in the sky. After that, Venus will move to the upper left of Nunki.

Good luck!

P.S. The constellation Sagittarius has a very distinctive shape that looks a little like a teapot. While it is easy to see in darker skies (possibly even in suburbs), it is very difficult to see in the city–both because most of its stars are around the same brightness or dimmer than Nunki and because it stays quite low in the sky.

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