Two of the brightest planets in Earth's field of view -- Jupiter and Venus are about to merge in an awe-inspiring show over the next few days.
If you’re a star-gazer, you’re in for a real treat: the planets of Jupiter and Venus are about to “collide” in the sky in a show that is one not to be missed.
In fact, you better take advantage of this eight-day event beginning today, as the next time it will happen will be in 2023. You’ll be able to witness Jupiter and Venus appearing so close together in the sky that they seemed to be colliding into each other, according to a USA Today report.
Of course, this is not actually the case. Venus is about 56 million miles from the Earth, and Jupiter is about 550 million miles from us. In fact, this is quite the trick in perspective, as technically the Earth is between Venus and Jupiter: Venus is the second planet from the sun, Earth is the third, and Jupiter is the fifth (Mars is fourth). But because of some weird perspective due to differences in orbits, we look inwards into the Solar System to see Venus, and beyond that way off in the distance is Jupiter on a much more distant orbit.
This event is known as a conjunction, and they’re quite rare but spectacular when they do happen. In fact, they’ll appear so close in the sky that you’ll be able to cover them both by outstretching your arm and holding up the tip of your pinky finger.
The next conjunction is set to happen on March 1 in 2023, and the planets won’t come as close as this upcoming event, which begins today and will be most visible on Tuesday.
The last time these planets came this close would probably be around the years 3 and 2 B.C., quite a long time ago and right around the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, some postulate that it was this conjunction that was referred to as the Star of Bethlehem, the phenomenon that is central to the Christmas story.