Dance of the Planets

   Over the coming couple of weeks the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, will close in on each other with a very close conjunction of the two on June 30th and July 1st depending on your time zone. In the U.S. central time zone (UT-6), where I live, the closest will be on the evening of June 30th when Jupiter and Venus will be less than 0.5o apart. This will be an easy to see conjunction and considering the apparent magnitudes of each, Venus -4.4 and Jupiter -1.8, this will be a very visible sight with the naked eye, binoculars, or through a telescope eyepiece.

   Pictures of the two planets and the Moon.

venus-moon-ani   Watch for the thin waxing crescent Moon to pass by the two planets on the evenings of the 19th-21st, and for the slow but steady movement of the stars of Leo the Lion sky getting lower toward the western horizon. What you are seeing is the effect of the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. The effect is that the Sun appears to move toward the east but which we see as the sky shifting westward daily. With regard to the stars of Leo, they will set closer and closer to the time of sunset until the Sun is blocking the view of the stars. After time the Sun will have moved eastward past Leo at which time we will see Leo rising ahead of the Sun in the morning.
   The series of graphics in the slideshow below show the changing positions of Venus, Jupiter, and the stars in that part of the sky over a period from June 13th to July 5th. As you watch the slides you can see Venus moving toward the east faster than Jupiter and eventually catches up with and passes Jupiter. At the same time the stars are also shifting westward. Look for the backward question mark for Leo and its brightest star Regulus at the bottom of the question mark shape. Venus will catch up with Regulus around the middle of July – but by then Venus, Regulus, and Jupiter, will all be close together but also closer to the time of sunset and so may not be easily visible.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

1 thought on “Dance of the Planets

  1. Pingback: Moon – 2 Planet Conjunction | Bob's Spaces

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