Venus and Jupiter conjunction: Two brightest planets will appear ‘close to colliding’

While the two brightest planets will be millions of miles apart, from Earth they will appear close to colliding. This planetary conjunction happens annually but this year they will appear much closer than usual.

The same spectacle won’t occur again like this until 2039.

The two planets will draw closer together until before dawn on May 1 they will lie a mere 21 arcminutes apart, their minimum separation in UK skies.

Just the naked eye or binoculars should be enough to see it in a clear sky.
After Saturday, the two planets will go their separate ways as they drift apart in the coming days.

Space scientist and chief stargazer at the Society for Popular Astronomy Prof Lucie Green said: “It’s very exciting for astronomers and it’s a really great opportunity for people to get out and have a look.”

A conjunction is when two planets appear close together or even touching in the Earth’s night sky.

In the days running up to Saturday, Venus and Jupiter have been gradually coming together in the sky.

The actual orbit of the planets is about 430 million miles apart but their apparent alignment seen from Earth gives the illusion that they are touching.
In the UK, you will need to set your alarms and be quick.

The best time to catch a glimpse will be at 05:00 BST looking east before the Sun rises.

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She suggests using an app to help navigate your way around the skies.

If you have a telescope, you might be able to make out some structure in the atmosphere of Jupiter or some of its largest moons.

The conjunction can be seen from both of Earth’s hemispheres at different times of day and night.

Those observing with a telescope may also be treated to a view of Mars and Saturn forming a line of four planets.

Prof Green says she plans to be up and out of bed to watch it from the UK.

She added: “But if I do miss it on Saturday morning, I’m not going to be too worried.

“In the coming days the two planets start to get further and further apart, so I will still be able to see them.”