What are those two really bright stars in the morning sky? They’re planets! Jupiter and Venus—the two brightest planets in Earth’s sky—are now incredibly close together, an alignment that will peak this weekend.
Remember the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in December 2020? It’s happening again as the “Giant Planet” and the “Morning Star” planet appear to get within 0.2º.
That’s less than the apparent width of a full Moon.
As viewed with the naked eye the two planets will appear to almost collide, according to NASA. However, you’re going to have to get up early to see this rare sight.
Here’s everything you need to know to see the exquisite celestial alignment of Jupiter and Venus this weekend:
What is a conjunction?
A conjunction is the apparent close pass of two objects in the night sky. That two planets can appear to almost collide is made possible by the fact that all the planets in the Solar System orbit the Sun on the same ecliptic plane. If you want to visualize it then think about the Sun’s path through the daytime sky.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Jupiter and Venus will be physically close to each other during the conjunction. It’s merely a line of sight illusion, with the two planets actually over 400 million miles apart.
When is the Jupiter-Venus conjunction?
The action will happen between Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1, 2022 when Jupiter and Venus will be very close together.
The closest pass comes at 19:00 UTC on Saturday, April 30, 2022. That’s daylight in North America so the key times to take a look are from about 4:30 a.m. on the mornings either side, when the planets will appear to be about half a degree apart:
- Saturday, April 30: Jupiter will be to the left of Venus.
- Sunday, May 1: Jupiter will be to the right of Venus.
Find out the sunrise time where you are be ready to observe the two planets at least 30 minutes beforehand.
Where is the Jupiter-Venus conjunction?
The two planets will be visible shining together on the east-southeast horizon:
How to watch the Jupiter-Venus conjunction
You’ll need a clear view of the east-southeast horizon. You may also need some binoculars or a small telescope, though you can easily just use your own eyes.
Venus will be the brightest planet of the two, shining at a magnitude of -4.1 to Jupiter’s magnitude -2.1. That’s about six times brighter. However, Jupiter will appear to be bigger than Venus and in binoculars or a small telescope you’ll also be able to see some of its four large moons—Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.