THE night sky doesn't get truly dark at this time of the year, so astronomers and sky watchers tend to concentrate on observing bright, obvious things that can be seen through the twilight - the Moon, planets and the International Space Station (ISS), writes STUART ATKINSON. Luckily, there are two really bright planets in the evening sky at the moment, and the ISS is visible too, although its crossing the sky in the wee small hours before dawn, so unless you're a shift worker, an insomniac or a vampire you might miss it.

As soon as the sky begins to darken after sunset you'll see Venus, the Evening Star, shining brightly, high in the north west. It looks like a silvery spark, eye-catchingly bright, and as the twilight deepens it just gets brighter and more beautiful. Look at it through binoculars and you'll be amazed just how bright it is.

Having found Venus, turn your back on it so you're facing the south east and you'll see another bright star above the horizon in that direction. This is Jupiter, not as bright as Venus but still strikingly-bright in the dusk sky. By midnight it blazes like a lantern in the south.

If you want to see the ISS too, here are the dates and times: May 17, 1.39am and 3.15am; May 18, 12.48am, 2.23am and 4am; May 19, 1.30am and 3.07am; May 20, 2.14am and 3.51am; May 21, 1.22am and 2.58am; May 22, 12.30am, 2.06am and 3.42am; May 23, 1.14am and 2.50am.