Venus and Jupiter will appear to almost touch Wednesday evening

Skygazers will have an interesting and easy-to-identify celestial event to look at Wednesday evening when the two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter, appear to come very close together. It’s what astronomers call a planetary conjunction.

Venus, typically the brightest object in the nighttime sky except for the moon, is often seen just before sunrise or just after sunset. For the past few weeks it has been noticeable in the western sky at twilight, slightly higher each night and appearing to move closer and closer to Jupiter, the third-brightest nighttime object apart from the moon.

Wednesday night they will appear in very close proximity as they pass each other. In subsequent weeks, Venus will continue to be noticeable, higher and higher in the evening sky, while Jupiter will slowly move lower and lower toward the western horizon.

The two planets will appear very close to each other Tuesday evening as well, just not quite as close as they will appear when in conjunction Wednesday night.

They aren’t really close together, of course; they just appear that way from the vantage point of earth. Venus is the planet second-closet to the sun, earth is third and Jupiter is fifth. Jupiter is the largest planet and Venus is third-smallest after Mercury and Mars.

To view Wednesday’s conjunction (assuming the sky is clear), look for two bright objects close together in the western sky at twilight before the stars come out.

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