Venus and the beehive
On the evenings of June 12 and 13, 2023, you can spot Venus — the brightest planet — passing by a famous star cluster known as the Beehive. Nearby Venus will appear as a large, bright diamond running through dozens of smaller diamonds farther away in this star cluster. On both evenings, Venus is about 1 degree — or two full moons in tandem — from the beehive.
First, look for bright Venus in the west after sunset. At magnitude -4.2, the early evening sky is easily dominated by Venus. You may also notice two bright stars in the sky that are lower than Venus. They are the shining stars in Gemini, Pollux, and Castor.
Above Venus and the twin stars a bright reddish light … And this is Mars.
Then, if you’re in a dark sky location or have binoculars, you can spot a speck of light on the sky’s dome near Venus. This little star is the Beehive star cluster, in the constellation of Cancer the Crab.
In late May and early June — around June 1 and 2, 2023 — Mars was a delightfully bright light among the faint Beehive cluster. And now it’s the turn of the wonderful planet Venus. Venus will be a beacon among the cluster’s fainter stars.
Unless the sky is very dark, you’ll need binoculars to catch the stars of the cluster. The hive will be easy to spot if you place Venus outside your field of vision.
Telescopes will reveal more than 1,000 members of the beehive group.
A closer look at the Beehive star cluster
With the help of a visual, the true nature of this star cluster comes to life.
The stars in this cluster are located about 577 light-years away. This is in contrast to Venus, which is only light minutes away.
And when you look at the beehive – think of how many planets there might be among those 1,000 stars. We already know of at least two (Pr0201b and Pr0211b).
Do you have a photo to share? Submit it in the EarthSky community photos. We sure enjoy seeing them.
Pictures of Mars Society buzzing with a beehive
Earlier this month, Mars passed in front of the Beehive star cluster. Here are some of the photos that have been submitted to the EarthSky community photos.
More images of Mars buzzing with a beehive
Bottom line: Spot Venus and the Beehive star cluster together on June 12 and 13, 2023. You’ll want to have good-view binoculars for the starry cluster that makes a sparkling accent for dazzling Venus.
Want to see more night sky events? Visit EarthSky’s night sky guide
Our charts are mostly set for the Northern Hemisphere. To see an accurate view of your location, try Stellarium Online.
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