The Moon Shines Next to Venus and the Beehive Cluster
Once again, the observers can enjoy the meeting of the Moon and Venus on September 14, 2020. This month, they will shine close to the Beehive star cluster. Read on and learn how and when to observe this beautiful gathering in the sky above you.
The close approach of the Moon and Venus
The 26-day-old Moon will meet Venus on Monday, September 14, 2020, at 6:23 GMT (2:23 a.m. EDT). The waning crescent Moon and the dazzling “morning star” will pass within 4°21' of each other, shining at a magnitude of -10.6 and -4.1, respectively. The stars of the constellation Cancer will surround them on that night.
Look for the Moon and Venus in the eastern part of the predawn sky. As the Moon is the most prominent object of the night sky, use it as your guide to find brilliant Venus shining right next to it. They are visible to the naked eye, but a telescope will help you to observe Venus's phases, which are very similar to the lunar ones. Moreover, you can try to spot these dazzling celestial objects (only the Sun exceeds them in brightness) after sunrise.
The easiest way to find the Moon, Venus, or any other object in the sky above you is to use the stargazing app Star Walk 2: just type its name in the search field, tilt your device up and follow the arrow to find the selected object in the sky. Moreover, you can check the rise and set times for the Moon and Venus for your location by tapping the “Sky Live” option.
The Beehive Cluster
On September 14, 2020, the Moon and Venus will shine close to the Beehive star cluster, also known as Praesepe (Latin for "manger") or M44. It is a group of gravitationally bound stars that were born from the same star-forming nebulae. The Beehive is one of the closest open clusters to the Solar System and includes approximately 1,000 stars. However, it’s rather faint: its brightest star is Epsilon Cancri (also called Meleph) with an apparent visual magnitude of 6.29, which is scarcely visible to the unaided eye.
You’ll find the Beehive glimmering in the clear, dark sky between bluish Regulus, the brightest star of the constellation Leo, and the prominent Gemini stars — golden Pollux and blue-white Castor. You can spot this subtle star cluster with the naked eye, but binoculars will help you to get a better view of its stars. The best time to observe it is around 4 a.m. local time.
This star cluster has been known since ancient times. The ancient Romans used the Beehive to predict the weather: according to Pliny, a Roman author and philosopher, if it is not visible in the clear sky, a furious storm is going to happen. In Roman and Greek mythology, the Beehive star cluster was associated with a manger, from which the two donkeys represented by the stars Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis were eating.
Enjoy the Moon, Venus, and the Beehive cluster with the application Star Walk 2. Follow us to keep abreast of the most prominent events from the world of astronomy!
Wishing you clear skies and happy observations!