Exactly when, where and how you can see the rare alignment of Jupiter and Venus with your naked eyes this weekend

What are those two really bright stars in the morning sky? They are planets! Jupiter and Venus, the two brightest planets in Earth’s sky, are now incredibly close to each other, an alignment that will peak this weekend.

Do you remember the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in December 2020? This recurs as the ‘Giant Planet’ and the ‘Morning Star’ planet seem to approach 0.2º closer.

This is less than the apparent width of a full moon.

Seen with the naked eye, the two planets will almost appear to collide, according to NASA. However, you will have to get up early to see this rare sight.

Here’s everything you need to know to see Jupiter and Venus’ exquisite celestial alignment this weekend:

What is a conjunction?

A conjunction is the apparent close passage of two objects in the night sky. That two planets can seem to almost collide is made possible by the fact that all planets in the solar system orbit the Sun on the same ecliptic plane. If you want to visualize it, think of the path of the Sun in the daytime sky.

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Jupiter and Venus will be physically close to each other during conjunction. It’s simply an illusion of line of sight, with the two planets actually being more than 400 million miles apart.

When is the Jupiter-Venus conjunction?

The action will take place between Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1, 2022 when Jupiter and Venus are very close to each other.

The closest pass arrives at 19:00 UTC on Saturday April 30, 2022. This is daylight in North America, so key times to have a look are from around 4:30 in the morning on either side , when the planets will appear to be about half a degree apart:

  • Saturday April 30: Jupiter will be to the left of Venus.
  • Sunday May 1: Jupiter will be to the right of Venus.

Find out the sunrise time when you are ready to observe both planets at least 30 minutes in advance.

Where is the Jupiter-Venus conjunction?

The two planets will be visible shining together on the east-southeast horizon:

How to observe the Jupiter-Venus conjunction

You will need a clear view of the east-southeast horizon. You may also need binoculars or a small telescope, although you can easily use your own eyes.

Venus will be the brighter planet of the two, shining at magnitude -4.1 at magnitude Jupiter -2.1. It’s about six times brighter. However, Jupiter will appear larger than Venus and in binoculars or a small telescope you will also be able to see some of its four large moons: Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io.

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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