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Feb. 17, 2012: Note to sky watchers: Put on your winter coats. What you’re about to read might make you feel an uncontrollable urge to dash outside.
The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up in the evening sky, and you can see the formation—some of it at least—tonight.
Go out at sunset and look west. Venus and Jupiter pop out of the twilight even before the sky fades completely black. The two brilliant planets surrounded by evening blue is a beautiful sight.
A special night to look is Saturday, Feb. 25th, when the crescent Moon moves in to form a slender heavenly triangle with Venus, Jupiter and the Moon as vertices.
And for those living in the Northern Hemisphere, we're about to move into a very fine "window of opportunity" for seeing Mercury in the evening sky. That window, which will open on Feb. 22 and close after March 12, will provide several good opportunities to see this so-called "elusive planet" with your own eyes.
When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Jupiter, Venus and the crescent Moon are forming a broad line in the sky. Daniele Gasparri photographed the arrangement from Bologna, Italy: