MENU

Best Opportunity To See Jupiter And Venus Get Cozy: Don't Miss Star Of Bethlehem Moment

Close

Two of our solar system neighbors are about to get very cozy, as Venus and Jupiter come so close in the night sky you will be able to cover them with the tip of a finger held in front of your eyes.

They're not close in actual fact, of course - their orbits have them millions of miles apart at all times - but they'll line up from our point of view in what's known as a conjunction.

They'll be at their closest Tuesday, June 30 - one-third of a degree apart - but they'll spend the next week within just 3 degrees of one another.

Although such conjunctions aren't that rare for the two planets - in November they'll do their "close pass" thing again - as two of the brightest objects in the night sky other than the moon their close meeting will be an exceptional sight.

It will be their closest conjunction in more than 10 years.

They've been moving toward their celestial alignment for some months now, astronomers note.

Some astronomers have suggested that is was a close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter that gave rise to the story of the Star of Bethlehem, as there was a series of three exceptionally close pairings of the two planets in the year 2 B.C. and again in 3 B.C.

The best viewing of this year's event will be about an hour after sunset, with Venus appearing first as darkness increases -- that's because thanks to its atmosphere of highly reflective clouds and the fact it's so much close to Earth than Jupiter, it is about six times as bright as Jupiter as seen from our world.

But as the darkness increases, Jupiter will appear to complete the double act.

"To the eye they'll look like a double star," says Kelly Beatty, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. "Anyone who hasn't glanced at the evening sky for a while will be surprised by how dramatically tight the pairing is."

Though a much larger planet, Jupiter will look around the same size because it so much farther away. The giant gas planet obits the sun at around 565 million miles from the Earth, while Venus sits just 58 million miles from us.

Backyard astronomers with even a modest telescope will be able to see Venus's disk looking like a small version of the quarter moon, while that same modest telescope should reveal Jupiter's bands of light and dark colors, and sharp eyes may even spot its four largest moons sitting close by.

See Now: 30 Gadgets And Tech Gifts For Father's Day 2018 That Dad Will Think Are Rad

© 2018 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Real Time Analytics