This month, bright Mars and brilliant Venus
are the prominent celestial beacons in
planet Earth's western skies after sunset.
Wandering through the constellation Cancer the Crab, the Red Planet was
on the evening of June 3 near the stars of
open cluster Messier 44
Recognized since antiquity this nearby, naked-eye star cluster is also known
as the Praesepe or the Beehive cluster.
A swarm of stars all much younger than the Sun, the Beehive cluster is
a mere 600 light-years distant.
Seen with a yellowish hue, Mars is about 17 light-minutes away.
On June 12/13 Venus
will take its turn posing next to the stars of
the Beehive cluster.
But the dazzling light of Venus will make the Beehive stars
difficult to see by eye alone.