Tonight, make sure to look to the skies. They’ve been moving in directions that’ll eventually have them within one degrees of one another in our night sky, making it appear as those they’re very almost aligned with one another.
“A conjunction is a set of circumstances where two celestial bodies appear to be very close together in the sky”, he explained.
Two planets that have been on a collision course all month were are their closest point this week.
“Swing your optics around the triangle for a fast-paced heavenly show”, wrote Tony Phillips, of NASA. He notes there were several brilliant planetary conjunctions around the time of the reported birth of Christ. The close pairing of the two planets should be visible in western skies just after sunset.
If you miss tonight or tomorrow, you will have a few more chances this year.
The cloud cover should start to break around 7 p.m. allowing a view of the planets. That evening will have these two and the moon closely together. There’s actually million and millions of miles between the two planets.
Astronomy Ireland is holding a free event this evening to celebrate the historical merger of Venus and Jupiter. But this year’s event is particularly special because of when it’s taking place and how close the planets will appear to come together – close enough that they will nearly seem to collide with each other.
Mitchell encourages us to look at the conjunction with any sort of magnification.
Venus is a near twin in size to Earth, however it suffers from a runaway greenhouse effect where temperatures at its surface can climb as high as 460 degrees Celsius and sulphuric acid rains down from the sky. Galileo noticed Venus went through phases similar to our moon.
Mitchell was excited about tonight, but he’s more excited about late July. The news agency had interviewed University of Sheffield astronomer Prof David Hughes, who had first published about the subject matter in the 1970s. If you’ve never seen Saturn’s rings, it is a tremendous sight to see through a telescope.