Starstruck

Venus and Jupiter Pose For Pretty Pics 'Round the World

The planets meet up in sunset skies this week, inspiring beautiful photos—where's yours?

View Images

Look to the west just after sunset to see Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest points in the sky, snuggled close. Shown here, the planets hover over Washington in 2008.


Snap-happy skywatchers around the world are sharing their shots on social media of this week's amazing sunset show, with Venus and Jupiter huddled super-close above the western horizon.

Both worlds appear as dazzling star-like objects—and are currently undergoing one of their closest encounters in our sky in over a decade.

The planetary pair have been slowly converging over the past several weeks, and on Tuesday, June 30, and Wednesday, July 1, they are at their tightest grouping—called a conjunction—separated by less than half a degree. That’s less than the width of the disk of the full moon. And it's so close that onlookers will be able to cover both planets with just their pinky held at arm’s length.

Here's a view of the pretty conjunction as it appeared Tuesday at dusk, taken with Italy's leaning tower of Pisa in the foreground.

Even partly cloudy skies need not deter determined sky-watchers, as seen here in Tampa Bay, Florida, on Tuesday night.

Even people down under are getting in on the action, and they have a front-row seat to Venus and Jupiter in their prime. Here’s a stunning view from the Australian Outback.

This view from Canada shows that this special planetary sky show just adds to the Canada Day holiday festivities.

For those in the United States celebrating Independance Day on July 4, while the planets may have pulled farther apart from each other by the end of the week, they will still offer up quite a memorable photo opportunity.

Under higher magnification, such as with binoculars, observers can even catch a glimpse of the four largest moons of Jupiter, as seen in this photo.

Skyhounds in the Philippines managed to clearly show the difference in brightness between Venus and Jupiter in their close-up photo of the cosmic pair, including those Galilean moons of Jupiter.

Here was the view at the Venus-Jupiter conjunction at a star party on Tuesday night in Blackpool, Lancashire, U.K.

Even U.S. President Barack Obama couldn't resist taking a peek when he got a chance to view the conjunction through a telescope on the south lawn of the White House on Tuesday night.

Even though this is one of the tightest conjunctions between these two brilliant planets in about 15 years, don’t fret if you get clouded out this week. You can catch the planets' next encounter at dawn on October 26.

If you want to catch the views Wednesday night, your best bet is to look west beginning a half hour after local sunset. As darkness falls, beacon-like Venus will make its appearance first.

Both planets shine so brilliantly, however, that naked-eye observers even under light-polluted city skies should have no problem spotting them at dusk.

Clear Skies!

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter, Facebook, and his website.

 

Comment on This Story