LOS ANGELES — Jupiter and Venus appear to be very close together in the night sky, and the two planets pass each other in what is known as a conjunction.
Jupiter appears to be drifting west, while bright Venus appears to be moving slowly in the other direction, NASA said.
Conjunctions between planets occur frequently because the celestial bodies orbit the Sun in roughly the same plane as each other and trace similar paths across our sky.
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At their closest, they are expected to be just half a degree apart – about the diameter of the full moon, said Robert Massey, deputy chief executive of Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society.
The best time to see the Jupiter-Venus conjunction in the U.S. will be early Wednesday evening, but the two planets will continue to appear close together in the night sky on Thursday, he added. The connection will be visible to the naked eye.
The conjunctions have no special astronomical significance, but they are an amazing sight.
After the moon, Jupiter and Venus are the brightest objects in the sky, according to Gianluca Masi, an astronomer at the Bellatrice Astronomical Observatory in Italy and project manager of the virtual telescope. He arranged a live feed to watch the “Kiss of Venus and Jupiter”.
Here are the rest of the top sky events of 2023 so you can get your binoculars and telescope ready.
The next full moon will be on Tuesday, March 7, and Venus, Jupiter and Mars will also be visible in the night sky that evening, according to NASA. It is sometimes called crow, crust, sap, sugar or worm.
Here are the other remaining full moons for 2023, according to the Farmer’s Almanac:
- September 29: Harvest Moon
- October 28: Hunter’s Month
Although these are popular names associated with the monthly full moon, each has its own meaning in Native American tribes (many of them also go by different names).
In 2023, there will be two solar and two lunar eclipses.
A total solar eclipse will take place on April 20, visible to residents of Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Antarctica. Such an event occurs when the moon moves between the sun and the earth, covering the sun.
And for some sky watchers in Indonesia, parts of Australia and Papua New Guinea, it will indeed be a hybrid solar eclipse. According to NASA, the curvature of the Earth’s surface can cause some eclipses to transition between total and annular as the Moon’s shadow moves across the globe.
Like a total solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth during an annular eclipse — but it happens when the moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth, according to NASA. This causes the moon to appear smaller than the sun, so it does not completely cover our star and creates a glowing ring around the moon.
An annular solar eclipse spanning the Western Hemisphere will occur on October 14 and will be visible across the Americas.
Be sure to wear appropriate eclipse glasses to view solar eclipses safely, as sunlight can damage your eyes.
A penumbral lunar eclipse will occur on May 5 for residents of Africa, Asia and Australia. This less dramatic version of a lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the penumbra, or the faint outer part of Earth’s shadow.
The partial lunar eclipse of the Hunter’s Moon on October 28 will be visible to residents of Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, parts of North and most of South America. A partial eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are not completely aligned, so only part of the Moon goes into shadow.
Mark your calendar for the peak meteor shower dates to watch for in 2023:
- Southern Delta Aquarius: July 30-31
- Alpha Capricorn: July 30-31
- Southern Taurides: November 4-5
- Northern Taurides: November 11-12
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