Venus and Jupiter — two of the brightest stars in the sky — will converge, and the celestial event will be visible on the night of July 1.
In what some astronomers are calling “the best backyard sky show of 2015,” Venus and Jupiter will converge at the end of this month, on the night of June 30 into July 1. According to Earth Sky, during June, 2015, the planets are converging, which will culminate in what they call a “jaw-dropping” event, not to be missed.
Venus and Jupiter are visible every night to the naked eye. All you have to do is step outside after sundown and look towards the west. On a clear night, those bright planets can be seen from Earth without any special equipment.
On July 1, Venus and Jupiter will appear to be right next to each other when you look up at the sky. This meeting has been developing on a weekly basis since last winter, as the planets converge.
Alan MacRobert, senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine explains that planetary conjunction such as the one we will see with Venus and Jupiter, usually happen because the solar system is relatively flat.
“But already they are something of a head-turning sight. If you hadn’t been paying attention and get a clear evening and look to the west as the stars begin to come out and twilight fades down to night, you’re likely to think, ‘Hey, what’s that’?”
If you think about it, our solar system includes numerous planets orbiting on what amounts to a sheet of paper, MacRobert explains. As the planets move around the sun, you see them around your head in a circle and when one passes in front of the other, it seems as though they are side by side, even though they may be thousands of miles apart.
Earth Sky says on June 18, Venus and Jupiter will only be six-degrees apart, which means that if you put your hand up, the planets will disappear behind two or three of your fingers. On June 19, another celestial body enters the picture, a crescent moon joining Venus and Jupiter to form an isosceles triangle — two of its sides are the same length.
Experts suggest — if you are able to — to watch the phenomenon through a telescope on the nights of June 19 and 20.
“The main event occurs on June 30. On that night, Venus and Jupiter will be a jaw-dropping one-third of a degree apart. That’s less than the diameter of a full moon. You’ll be able to hide the pair not just behind the palm of your outstretched hand, but behind your little pinky finger.”
This is not the first time Venus and Jupiter have converged, but it’s always fun to watch celestial events such as these.
[Image via Marek Nikodem / NASA]