2023 February 28
Venus and Jupiter Conjunction – 1-2 March 2023
Over the past week, you might have noticed two brilliant objects getting close together in the west not long after sunset. These are two bright planets: Venus (our nearest neighbour) and the giant planet Jupiter. Venus is the brighter of the two, while Jupiter has a more of a yellowish colour to it.
On 1st March, they will be very close to each other- this is an event known as a conjunction. In the night sky, the sizes of objects are measured in degrees, minutes and seconds. For example, the full moon is about half a degree or 30 arcminutes across. On 1st March, Venus and Jupiter will just be 39 arc minutes apart. If it’s cloudy on 1st March, try again on the following evening when the two will be a little further away from each other (45 arc minutes). After that the planets will continue to move apart.
If you have binoculars or a small telescope, try to view the pair on a low power to see if you can get both of them into the same field of view. Venus will show a gibbous disk in the telescope, Jupiter will be much larger, and its two main equatorial bands should also be visible.
We will lose Jupiter in the evening sky as March goes on, but Venus will be a splendid target. Continue to follow Venus over the next few months and a telescope will show you the phase of the planet decreasing as the planet moves closer to earth. On the 4th June, Venus will be about 50% illuminated and look like a half moon, after that it will become a crescent until it passes between the sun and earth on 13th August – an event called inferior conjunction.
If you want to know more about what you can observe on Venus, both digitally or visually, visit the BAA Mercury and Venus Section website.
Teaser Image: Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo taken from the International Space Station to Twitter on July 19, 2015 with the caption, “Day 114. #Moon #Venus #Jupiter…#Earth Good night from @space_station! #YearInSpace”.
credit: Scott Kelly/NASA
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