Venus and Mercury were putting on a great show over several days at my location.
You didn’t need optical aid to enjoy the view of the sky to the southwest. Distant tropospheric clouds are likely responsible for the separate pink/violet pillars clearly visible after sunset for a brief time.
Venus was visible before sunset but Mercury required a darker sky to shine through for naked eye visibility.
Location: Mesa, Arizona
Date and Time: January 6, 2015, 18:15 pm local time
Temperature: 19° C (67° F)
Venus visual magnitude -3.9; distance from Earth 1.6 au
Mercury visual magnitude -0.8; distance from Earth 1.2 au
Assorted color pencils and pastel crayons, blue construction paper cut to size to fit my clipboard,
blending stumps and facial tissue paper for blending, white Pearl eraser.