Venus stirs the Beehive

After its historic transit, Venus hits the headlines once again


Credit: Pete Lawrence

Astronomers will be treated to impressive views of the Morning Star this month

by Vincent Whiteman

We’ve been dazzled by Venus over the past year and this September it takes to the stage once more, treating early risers to a flyby of the Beehive Cluster.

Earlier in the year it swung by the open cluster M45 (The Pleiades) before making its historic transit across the Sun in June. The Beehive, also known as M44 or Praesepe, is another open cluster consisting of around 200 stars located roughly 590 lightyears away at the centre of the constellation Cancer. The cluster is easily discernable to the naked eye and can be spotted rising around 03.00 BST throughout the month of September.

Early September sees Venus making its way over from Gemini to Cancer shining brightly at mag. -4.1. It gets really close to M44 between 10-14 September, reaching its closest point to the cluster on the 13th, just 2.5o away from M44's glittering centre.

Watch out for the crescent Moon sneaking its way onto the scene on the 12th, only 6o away to the southwest of Venus. Views through binoculars will capture the whole scene nicely and will aslo give you a good view of the cluster.

For more September observing highlights, pick up the latest issue of Sky at Night Magazine on sale now!

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