Why is this a big deal? A conjunction between Venus and
Jupiter occurs every 13 months, but due to the Earth’s rotation and celestial
dance, we only get to witness it once in every 39 occurrences, which brings
this event to a once-every-24-years date. Where will you find them? Venus and
Jupiter remain in the West nearly four hours after sunset.
The two brightest planets are putting on a show this week, and all you have to do is look west. This Venus-Jupiter conjunction is a time when they’ll be separated by just 3 degrees, what some astronomers (and interesting people) like to describe this event as the Tango. A degree in the sky is just an easy measure of distance, every full moon covers about 0.5 degrees of the night sky, so this 3-degree separation is, in fact, 6 full moons wide. Remember, the brighter planet is Venus, it’s actually 2.2 times brighter; since Jupiter’s magnitude is -2.1 and Venus’ is -4.3.
|Screenshot from Stellarium|
|Venus and Jupiter conjunction - Credits to Sky & Telescope|
They met back in 1988, only being separated by 2 degrees, they’ll meet again this week. It just makes this event more interesting since the next time humans will witness this exact light show will be in 2036.
|Artist's perception of the Venus-Jupiter conjunction|
Venus and Jupiter are in conjunction on March 15, 2012. This is the best evening Venus-Jupiter conjunction for years, as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. Venus and Jupiter stay out for nearly four hours after sunset. Venus and Jupiter are close throughout March 2012.
|Jupiter and Venus along the ecliptic|