After months of chasing the giant planet, Venus finally catches up to Jupiter in the early evening twilight sky. This is a close pairing of the two worlds that only occurs about once a year. Look carefully at the gap between them – does it appear to be more or less than the full Moon? (Answer: at their closest, the distance between the the two is about two thirds the diameter of the full Moon.)
Both planets will easily fit into the same field of view when observed through binoculars and as a bonus, the four largest moons of Jupiter can also be easily seen. Look at them with low magnification through a telescope and you might also see the half-moon shape of Venus and the bands of Jupiter’s cloud-tops.
The pair will drift apart over the next few nights as Jupiter slowly sinks toward the horizon. Venus, despite moving more quickly, will also slip toward the Sun over the coming weeks.
(Click on the image to enlarge.)
Image courtesy of Mobile Observatory.
03:49 UT – Venus appears 20’ south of Jupiter. (Venus: 34% illuminated, magnitude -4.4, diameter 32.5”. Jupiter: magnitude -1.8, diameter 32.4”. Naked eye, Leo, evening sky. See images above.)
The constellation Scutum (the Shield) culminates at midnight tonight. (Naked eye, all night.)
The globular cluster M70 culminates at midnight tonight. (Magnitude 9.1. Sagittarius, all night.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times, except those accompanying the graphics, are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
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