Amateur astronomers will be pulling out their telescopes this week as Jupiter and Venus, two of the brightest objects visible in the night sky, can be seen in close proximity. Jupiter, the largest planet in out solar system and Venus, the closest planet to Earth will both by very bright in the night sky and within 1 degree of each other.
The two planets have slowly been creeping towards each other for a number of weeks and will be side by side on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
These meeting are known to astronomers as conjunctions and are apparently very rare. The last such meeting of these planets happened 15 years ago.
These planets can be seen in the Northern hemisphere by looking westward across the sky and will be so bright; they’ll be impossible to miss if the sky is clear.
Venus, the smaller of the planets, will appear to be brighter. This is because it is much closer to Earth than Jupiter and has highly reflective clouds in its atmosphere.
Venus is about the same size as Earth and is 90 million kilometres away while Jupiter is 890 million kilometres away. The fact that they will look similar in size is a coincidence.
This phenomenon is gong to occur when the two planets line up with respect to Earth. While they may seem to be close together they are actually very far apart.
While both the planets will be visible with the naked eye, a high magnitude telescope will allow a visual of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter.
This will be one of the most exciting stargazing events of the year. The two planets will make one final appearance on July 18th.