Monday, March 12, 2012

Venus and Jupiter Doing the Do-Sa-Do

March 12, 2012 – Northern Hemisphere: Tonight as you look up into the western night sky, you will see two very bright objects fairly close to each other. They are Venus and Jupiter who have been dancing toward each other since the beginning of the month. Over the course of the evening, they will appear to line up side-by-side. Tomorrow night, March 13th, they will appear at their closest being separated by just 3 degrees with Venus located just above and to Jupiter’s right. This planet line-up is called a planetary conjunction. A Venus-Jupiter conjunction occurs about every 13 months. This conjunction will be exceptional with the planets appearing above the horizon starting at twilight for about 4 hours. Also, because the moon doesn’t rise till 10:30pm, they will stand out in the night sky. From Earth’s perspective, Venus will appear brighter than Jupiter even though it is 11 times bigger. As the week progresses, Venus will appear to move counter-clockwise to Jupiter in a classic do-sa-do move. For those who have a good view of the western horizon, Mercury will also be visible just at twilight. Image credit: Derek Shirlaw & Stellarium

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