On June 30, stargazers will be able to witness a very special astronomical phenomenon: the brightest two planets in the solar system, Jupiter and Venus, will get at the closest position to each other. However, you are encouraged to follow the phenomenon throughout the entire month of June and watch the two planets getting closer and closer together each night.
The phenomenon is called planet conjunction and is one of the most appreciated exhibitions of celestial activity by professional and amateur astronomers alike. The conjunction in itself is the culmination of a month long process of the planets getting closer together. During the upcoming weeks, Venus will be visible through a small power telescope as a bright half-moon. As a bonus for stargazers, the full moon will occur tomorrow night, on June 2.
Which Is Which?
There will be a point when amateur sky watchers will not be able to distinguish the two brilliant planets, but if you know your constellations, you can follow these simple indications: Venus is closer to the Gemini constellation, close to Pollux, while father of all gods, Jupiter, is passing between the Cancer and Leo constellations.
Of course, you will notice that Venus is shining brighter than Jupiter, which is a gaseous planet. In addition to the main display of sky dance between Venus and Jupiter, four of the largest satellites of the latter will be also visible.
What Will It Look Like?
At the closest point of encounter, the two planets will appear as one single shining celestial body, rivaling the moon in the night sky. The experts explain that the brightness of the two approaching planets will be visible even in locations affected by dense smog.
The actual moment of the closest encounter will take place on the night of June 30, half an hour after sunset. The bright duo shall appear at 20 degrees above the horizon westwards and their precise positions shall be at one third of a degree from each other.
Watch Out for the Next Encounter
Jupiter and Venus will not be able to stay away from each other for too long. If you do not get enough of their summer encounter, prepare for the next one in the autumn. Although there are no guarantees of clear skies for optimal observation, Jupiter and Venus will get at the closest positions from each other on October 25. This time, however, they will be situated at one degree distance, making the end of June even the closest possible position of these planets.
Image Source: Wilderness Astronomy