In a few minutes’ time, the two brightest planets in the night sky — Venus and Jupiter — will appear to pass extremely close to one another; so close that they’ll seem on the verge of colliding. Here’s what you need to know about viewing this celestial event in Australia.
First, the good news: you don’t need a telescope to witness tonight’s Venus-Jupiter conjunction — the event will be so bright that even observers in luminous, star-obscuring cities like Sydney and Melbourne will get to see it. As long as the sky remain clear of clouds in your area, you should be good.
The Venus-Jupiter conjunction is an annual event, but it’s rare for the celestial bodies to appear this close together. Indeed, the perceived distance will be so small that you’ll be able to conceal both planets from view with the tip of your pinkie finger. Of course, this is just an illusion: in reality Venus will be 49 million miles from Earth while Jupiter will be 564 million miles.
For best results, head outside as soon as it gets dark and look to the west-northwest. If you don’t have a compass handy, this guide will help to point you in the right direction. (Failing that, just look around the night sky — it’s pretty difficult to miss it.)
According to Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan, after about two hours for most latitudes the objects will become difficult to observe and may be mistaken for aeroplanes. Your next chance to see a conjunction of this visual magnitude won’t transpire for close to a decade so it’s definitely worth venturing outside.
[Via Business Insider]