In addition to fireworks displays around the country, many will want to check out the light show occurring on the western horizon this evening. Instead of at midnight however, it will take place just after sunset.
I am talking about the celestial alignment of the thin crescent moon and the planets Venus, Jupiter and Mercury. Venus, the brightest planet in the night sky, will be visible just as the sun sets (assuming a cloud-free sky of course!), followed shortly by Jupiter, which is also easily spotted, and Mercury, which is generally faint and harder to locate.
Since all 8 planets (sorry, Pluto!), as well as the sun and moon, travel across the sky on a corresponding elliptical plane, there is a simple trick for spotting all three planets. At sunset, first locate Venus. It is just below the moon- you really can’t miss it! Then draw and imaginary line down from there to where the sun has set. Jupiter and Mercury are close together and lie along the line between Venus and the sun.
With clear skies and an unobstructed view of the horizon, one should be able to spot this spectacular planetary anomaly!