Now that the skies have been quasi-clear in the evening, I've been getting a lot of curious e-mails about the bright "star" in the western sky just after sunset.
It's really bright because it's really close (relatively speaking) -- it's actually the planet Venus.
The planet is the brightest natural object in the nighttime sky aside from the moon. Depending on where Venus and Earth are in their respective orbits, Venus is either an evening star or morning star, but it's always found pretty close to where the sun rises and sets (since Venus is orbiting the sun too).
The chart above is for 7:12 p.m. Looks like the planet sets about 9:30 p.m. this week.
By the way, I got the chart off this fantastic online star chart site called SkyViewCafe.com. Check it out!