If you manage to rise before the sun on U.S. Independence Day, a treat awaits: Venus, having transited across the sun in June, is now the morning star, and has taken Jupiter and a host of other planetary companions along with it.
On July 4 begins a month-long sky show, according to NASA, with some of the most spectacular action occurring this morning, when Venus passes dead center through a grouping of stars 153 light years from Earth known as the Hyades cluster.
“Using binoculars, scan around the bright planet; you'll see dozens of stars scattered across the velvety-black sky,” NASA said in a media release. “The temporary addition of Venus will make it seem that a supernova has gone off in the cluster.”
But if you missed that heavenly sight, don’t despair: Saturday July 7 brings another pre-dawn liaison, this one a lineup of Venus, Jupiter and the red giant star Aldebaran, which forms Taurus the Bull’s bright red eye, NASA assures us.
Venus and Jupiter will also travel alongside each other most mornings.
"Look out any east-facing window to see Venus and Jupiter, shining side-by-side, so close together you can hide them behind your outstretched palm," Tony Phillips said in the NASA release. "It's a great way to start the day."
Ending the day will be just as good, as Mars, Saturn and an almost-full moon will wrap up the evening’s Fourth of July fireworks, according to Space.com.
Here's a quick video of what the Venus-Jupiter morning sky show typically looks like, shot on June 30.