Venus Jupiter Conjunction 2016
August 27, 2016 – The Venus Jupiter conjunction 2016 will be in full-swing as the Sun sets on Saturday, August 27. Our solar system’s two brightest naked eye planets, Venus and Jupiter will come extremely close to one another. Of course, the two planets are no physically closer than usual, but are nearly visibly aligned in Earth’s night sky.
What is the Venus Jupiter conjunction 2016?
In astronomy, a conjunction occurs when two or more objects pass by one another in the sky. Obviously, this can happen in multiple ways. In this case Venus, being the nearer planet to us, will positions itself between Earth and Jupiter (shown below).
Visually, this will make Venus appear to come remarkably close to Jupiter. I say “appear,” because the two planets will still be at typical distances, on their usual orbits, but will seem close together to our eyes from Earth.
How can I see the Venus Jupiter conjunction?
The best place and time to see the Venus Jupiter conjunction will be between 9:10-9:30 p.m. (local time) at 15º – 20º high in the western sky.
The only difficulty will be the Sun. At this time the two planets will sit quite low on the western horizon. This will leave a brief window in which the planets are still above the horizon, but the Sun has gone below. Ultimately, this will mean the sky is not yet completely dark, but the Sun will no longer be totally beaming either.
It may a short, and not optimal window of time, but it will be very worth attempting!
Do I need a telescope or binoculars?
As opposed to many exciting astronomical events, the Venus Jupiter conjunction 2016 will require no equipment! In fact, it will not even require a telescope or binoculars! Because the two planets are so bright and near, you can witness their alignment with only your eyes.
As mentioned above, the only hitch may be the Sun, which will still be setting in the western sky close to Venus and Jupiter. Make sure you are ready and on-time for experiencing the event!
I do own a telescope or binoculars. Can I use them?
If the Sun cooperates, and you do have access to a telescope or binoculars, you are in for an even more spectacular treat! At such close distances in the sky, both planets will fit easily within a telescope’s view. Plus, even small backyard telescopes should reveal some of Jupiter’s four largest, Galilean Moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto)!
Repetitively, I will again mention that the Sun will not be completely set at the time of the conjunction. But, a telescope or binoculars may help you spot the planets earlier in the sky. So, use judgement to know whether or not you should be using optical aids, like telescopes and binoculars. Even mild sunlight through a telescope can be extremely harmful to your eyes. Proceed with much caution!
Here is a picture of our Sun up close as a reminder. Does this look like something that will be gentle on your sensitive eyes? SPOILER ALERT: NO!
What will the Venus Jupiter conjunction look like?
During their conjunction, Venus will appear considerably brighter and larger than Jupiter to our eyes. Naturally, we know that Jupiter is our solar system’s biggest planet. So, how could Venus possibly appear larger? First, at 25 million miles away, Venus is far closer to Earth than Jupiter, which is at 480 million miles out. Therefore, relatively tiny Venus will falsely seem larger. Second, Venus’ thick outer clouds, being so much closer to the Sun, will reflect dramatically more of its light. This causes Venus to not only appear somewhat larger, but also brighter.