Jupiter and Venus in Planetary Conjunction
Jupiter is back in the news. This time not for it’s proximity to earth, but for appearing very close to Venus in the night sky. I have been observing the two planets getting closer and closer together in the last couple of weeks, but hadn’t realized there was anything particularly special about it until I came across this article by National Geographic.
The coming together of these two planets is known as Planetary Conjunction and happens every thirteen months for the case of Jupiter and Venus. The occurrence itself isn’t that rare, but this year it appears spectacular due to the fact that the planets are visible for several hours after sunset. They can be observed in the western sky just after sunset and stay visible for about four hours after that. The climax of the conjunction is going to be on the 15th of March when they shall be just 3 degrees apart.
Jupiter and Venus are the brightest celestial bodies after the moon, which makes them quite easy to pick out in the night sky. However, there are two more planets that have been showing up closely behind and are easily visible to the naked eye. Mars has been appearing in the eastern sky about two hours after sunset followed shortly by Saturn.
Mars is easily distinguishable from other stars around it due to its yellow/orange color. Saturn is a lot harder to pick out if you don’t know where to look. It appears just below and to the left of Spica in the constellation Virgo.