If you’re blessed with a clear sky this evening, look up to the stars and catch a glimpse of Venus and Jupiter side-by-side.
Venus is the closest planet to Earth – at its furthest, according to NASA, Venus floats around 162 million miles away from us. However, on average, it’s around 25 million miles away.
Jupiter, on the other hand, is pretty far. At their closest point, Earth and Jupiter are 365 million miles apart, whereas at their furthest, the gas behemoth lies around 601 million miles away.
While it won’t be the equivalent of seeing two moons in the sky, the planets are set to be visible to the naked eye at around 4.30pm this evening (GMT).
According to the Alma Observatory, to catch a glimpse of the planets you must ‘look to the west at sunset’.
— ALMA Observatory (@almaobs) November 22, 2019
As for how big they’ll appear, Tania de Sales Marques, of the Royal Observatory Greenwich, explained they ‘will be at about 1.2 degrees apart – just a bit more than the width of your little finger at arm’s length’.
De Sales Marques said, as per MailOnline:
Two points of light have been adorning the south-western sky just around sunset and to the avid observer they might appear to be moving closer every day. These points of light are in fact the planets Venus and Jupiter and they will come closest together in the sky on November 24.
The cosmic line-up is known in the astronomy world as a ‘syzygy’ – Venus will reportedly appear to be the brighter of the two.
De Sales Marques added:
As the planets will be setting soon after sunset they will appear very low in the sky, so one will have to find somewhere with an unobstructed view of the horizon and face the south-west direction. The moon will set earlier during the day, and sunset will occur at 16:00, so the best time to spot the pair of planets will be at around 16:30.
That’s not all – particularly eagle-eyed star-gazers will also be able to see Saturn trailing behind the planets. But don’t worry if you miss it, ‘as the planets will remain close in the sky for a few more days’ she added.
Venus and Jupiter will not coincide this way again until February 2021.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.