An early morning challenge awaits from 6:00 to 6:30, as a thinning Crescent Moon appears wll to the right of the stunning Venus, slipping more and more into the Sun’s twilight each morning. From 6:15 to 6:25, you might barely glimpse another planet below Venus, about the same height as the Moon above the horizon, the returning Mars. Mars will be much easier to see later this year.

Orion is an easy target, even on a moonlit night. Tonight, the lack of moonlight might give you an opportunity to see a fainter feature of our winter Giant. Look below his three belt stars, where a fainter line marks his sword. The very end of the sword is a little fuzzy, because it is not a star but a vast region of glowing gas and dust, called a nebula.

By 8:30 PM this evening, the “twin” stars of Gemini appear quite high in the east-southeast, two-thirds of the way up from the horizon, and ride very high across the southern skies. Pollux, a bit brighter and on the lower left, and Castor, on the upper right, are named for the sons of the Greek god Zeus and his mortal lover, Leda.