Venus & Jupiter Conjunction August 27th 2016
By Bruce McClure, 08/24/2016
August 27, 2016 – the sky’s two brightest planets Venus and Jupiter will stage the year’s closest conjunction of two planets. These worlds appear only about 1/15th degree apart on the sky’s dome. How close is that? Well, 1/15th of a degree is the equivalent of about 1/7th to 1/8th of the moon’s apparent diameter. That’s a very small span, and these two worlds will easily fit within the same binocular or telescopic field of view.
These worlds are close to the sunset, though. From anywhere worldwide, you’ll want to find an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset. Given a clear sky, you should see Venus and then Jupiter popping out near the sunset point on the horizon around 30 to 40 minutes after the sun goes down. These recommended almanacs can help you find the sunset time in your location.
Binoculars can help you to see Venus and Jupiter all the sooner in the haze of evening twilight.
Venus and Jupiter will be easier to see from the Southern Hemisphere than at comparable latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. For instance, Venus and Jupiter set about two hours after the sun at temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. At mid-northern latitudes, in contrast, Venus and Jupiter follow the sun beneath the horizon a scant hour after sundown.
The planetary threesome – Venus, Jupiter and Mercury – will be much easier to view from southerly latitudes. The planets are higher up at sunset and stay out until after dark.
Venus and Jupiter rank as the third-brightest and fourth-brightest celestial bodies to light up the heavens, after the sun and moon. So, even at northerly latitudes, you’ll still have a decent chance of catching these two worlds after sunset, given an unobstructed western horizon and a pair of binoculars.
Bottom line: Spectacular Venus-Jupiter conjunction on August 27, 2016! They’re the two brightest planets, and it’s the closest conjunction of two planets in all of 2016. Don’t miss it!
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.
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