Early-bird skywatchers on Wednesday (Oct. 3) will be treated to a rather extraordinary sight, when the most brilliant planet passes exceptionally close to one of the brightest stars in the sky.
The planet is Venus and the star is Regulus in the constellation of Leo, the Lion. The celestial pair promises to dazzle observers before dawn on Wednesday, weather permitting.
Venus is by far and away the brightest morning "star" and is currently the focal point of the eastern dawn sky. It will, in fact, remain this way all through the balance of the autumn season. Venus rises a bit more than three hours before sunrise — that’s even before the first light of dawn.
In the days and weeks to come, early risers can take note of the fact that Venus will slowly be appearing lower, and a bit less brilliant, in the night sky. Even now, the planet appears ever so slightly lower and less dazzling than it did September, but this astonishingly bright planet is still positioned almost as well as it can be for a predawn apparition.