An opportunity for sky-gazers, as in a rare planetary conjunction, the planets Jupiter and Venus will appear closer to each other on March 1st.
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The two brightest stars in the night sky. The planets Venus and Jupiter have been spotted by people from different regions in the world from the 20th of February 2023 till now.
However, the celestial dance is not over yet as the two planets are set to arrive at the conjunction. The two planets are expected to be spotted a lot closer each evening in the night sky until the 1st of March, as after that the two planets will go in separate directions and, therefore, will start moving away from each other.
This was announced by NASA in a social media post.
What is a Planetary Conjunction?
A planetary conjunction is when two astronomical objects appear close together in the earth’s night sky. Mostly, conjunctions are associated with planets, but the term is used for any two astronomical objects, such as moons, asteroids, stars, and the sun.
The phenomenon is called inferior conjunction when a planet lies between the earth and the sun. When a planet is on the opposite side of the sun to the earth, that is referred to as superior conjunction.
The Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter
Both planets are visible to the naked eye as they are shining brightly in the night sky. Although Venus has always been the brightest star in the night sky and the third brightest celestial body after the sun and the moon.
However, for the period of conjunction, both planets appear brighter than any of the surrounding stars in the sky. Venus appeared to be two times brighter than Jupiter. This has made this event easy to spot.
This rare phenomenon has been witnessed by the world since 20th February and as each day passes, the two planets appear closer than they were in the previous day’s night sky.
This was spotted and posted by netizens around the world.
How to Spot the Conjunction?
The phenomenon can be seen after sunset, above the southwest horizon in the night sky. The distance between the two planets can be measured by conventional means: hold up your hand at arm’s length, then close one eye.
By measuring from the above-mentioned technique, the two planets appeared at a distance of about a fist at about half an hour after sunset on 20th February. This is the distance from our point of view of our planet since, in reality, the two planets are millions of miles away from each other.
On March 1 and 2, the planets, Venus and Jupiter will appear to be much closer to each other, less than one degree apart in the night sky, which is equivalent to the width of one’s little finger when held out at arm’s length.
A degree is subdivided into arcminutes when the distance gets this short. There are 60 arcminutes in 1 degree. On 1st March, Venus and Jupiter will appear at a distance of 39 arcminutes apart which will be their closest approach. On the evening of 2nd March, the distance will increase to 45 arcminutes apart.
After the planets begin to pull apart, Jupiter will be lost in view for some time as it will drift slowly into the sun’s glare, whereas, Venus will continue to shine bright in the evening sky as it will continue to separate from the sun.
The Morning Star
Venus appears as the Morning Star, rising before the sun, for nearly 263 days, as it appears in the morning sky, and the Evening Star, as it appears in the evening sky, for nearly 263 days. There is a period of 58 days when the planet is too close to the sun to be visible.
Currently, Venus is presented as the Evening Star and is easily distinguishable when one looks towards the west as it is the brightest of all the planets in the sky on earth.
Venus will hold its position in the sky, which is low on the western horizon as the moon moves further west.