Venus and Jupiter conjunction on Thursday

On Thursday, March 15, at 10:37:46 UTC (that’s just a little before lunchtime in London) planets Venus and Jupiter will be in conjunction, only just over 3 degrees apart in the sky. Now, for Londoners, and the rest of us in Europe and nearby longitudes, this means that the conjunction happens on the other side of the planet. It’s unfortunate, but there’s not much to be done about that – unless you’re willing to hop on a plane, in which case booking a ticket now is probably a tad late anyway.

Your best bet if, like me, you’re on the wrong side of the planet, is to look up into the sky on the evening of Wednesday 14th or Thursday 15th, from just after sunset and for maybe four hours more. At the moment those two planets are moving very slowly relative to each other, so the difference between the actual conjunction, and the evening just before or after, won’t be that big.

I like to keep in mind that those are other worlds that I’m watching, far out there, but still our closest neighbours. Venus, the brightest of the two, is the nearest. It’s about the same size as the Earth, but has no moon, and is covered in a permanent, white layer of clouds. Jupiter is 11-12 times as wide, but seven times as far away, so it looks smaller and fainter from here. But if you grab a pair of binoculars, a small telescope, or take a picture using a 200mm t0 300mm camera lens, you’ll be able to see four small moons around it; it’s a whole little system of worlds to itself.

I won’t put up times for all time zones; I’ll leave those bits of arithmetics to you. But you don’t need me to tell you when the sun goes down around your place. As soon as it does, put your eyes to the sky and look for those two bright spots. You can’t miss them.

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