Thebacha and Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival August 2017

Conjunction Action

Jupiter and Venus meet in the evening sky.

Seronik-June 30, 2015 Venus and Jupiter

Jupiter and Venus during their close encounter on the evening of June 30, 2015. At the time this photo was taken, the two planets were just 20 arc minutes apart. Courtesy Gary Seronik

Brilliant Venus and bright Jupiter had their closest approach on June 30. In the coming days they will gradually grow farther and farther apart, but remain a lovely sight in the evening twilight sky for many nights to come.

I viewed the duo in bright twilight from my home in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, with a small telescope. The fat crescent Venus was startlingly bright, while Jupiter appeared almost ghostly by comparison. The Jovian disc was crossed by twin dark equatorial belts and flanked by its four bright moons — three on one side, one on the other. As it happens, during the conjunction, Jupiter and Venus displayed the same apparent size. Even though Jupiter is roughly 12 times larger than Venus, at the moment it’s also about 12 times farther from the Earth.

If you missed out on this event, don’t despair. The two planets meet up again in the morning sky on October 25, though they’ll be twice as far apart. Venus and Jupiter won’t be as close again until August 27, 2016, when they’ll be only 4 arc minutes apart! Unfortunately, that meeting will be difficult to observe from Canadian latitudes since the planets will be low in the sky in bright twilight.

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Categories: Observing Reports
One comment on “Conjunction Action
  1. David A. Rodger says:

    That’s a beautiful photo. Like many observers I’ve been following Jupiter and Venus all spring and early summer, awaiting the big moment. It’s very unusual, as I’ve noted before, for observers in southwestern BC to see astronomical events. Whether it’s an annular eclipse, transit of Venus, triple shadow event on Jupiter or other such occurrence, we’re almost always clouded out. But not this time. We had a front row seat and the two planets drew closer and closer.

    I was astonished to see both planets in the field of view Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in my 180mm Sky-Watcher Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, using a 27mm Panoptic eyepiece (100X).

    By the way, Global National ran a short feature on the two planets in their Tuesday evening newscast. The story was pretty accurate, but why would they base their story on a report originating in Morocco? Was no one in the 30 + Centres of the RASC or the various planetariums and science centres across Canada available?

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