(Posted 20 June 2015) If you thought last night’s encounter between Venus, Jupiter and the slim crescent Moon was impressive, keep watching! Thanks to the mechanics of all three planets moving around the Sun (the Earth being the third), Venus and Jupiter are appearing to be moving even closer together. The two planets will appear to be at their closest in our evening twilight sky on Wednesday 1 July 2015 when they will only be 0.2 degrees apart (or two thirds of a Moon width). This event is referred to as a planetary conjunction by astronomers and will be dazzling to the unaided eye.
On Saturday 20 June 2015, the Moon, Venus and Jupiter will make a temporary triangle in the evening twilight sky.
On Sunday, the Moon will have moved above Jupiter and Venus.
The highlight of this sky show will occur when Venus and Jupiter will be only 0.2 degrees apart on Wednesday 1 July 2015. After that day, the two planets will rapidly move apart.
If you happen to own a telescope, don’t forget to point it at Venus and Jupiter on that Wednesday evening. If you have a suitable wide field eyepiece, you will be rewarded with a view of both planets in the field of view.
A final comment. If you are wondering why both planets only appear as stars to the unaided eye, the answer is distance. Both planets are located far from the Earth and thus appear star like. A small telescope will easily show both planets as they really are.