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article imageVenus and Jupiter in closest pass in night sky over next 2 days

By Kev Hedges     Mar 12, 2012 in Science
Shortly after sunset on Tuesday evening, the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will offer skygazers the chance to see the planets Venus and Jupiter right next to each other in the night sky.
In reality the two planets are vastly far from one another in space, the conjunction will make them appear as small as three degrees apart in the sky. If you are fortunate enough to have clear skies then the close pass will be a much anticipated celestial wonder, and you will not need a telescope as both planets will be the brightest objects in the sky besides the Moon.
Venus is the brighter of the two, and Jupiter will appear to move downwards in a line past it for the remainder of the month of March. Venus is also set to pass in front of the sun in early June this year, in what is known as "the transit of Venus." Indeed this year has been a busy time for amateur astronomers with Mars reaching opposition last Monday when it came at its closest to the Earth, reports the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. The moon will come back and join the celestial show in late March when it will appear, as it did last month, to head up and past the descending Jupiter and then Venus, reports the BBC. The first half of March gives night sky watchers one of the best times for viewing the planets with the unaided eye for many years.
Moon  Venus and Jupiter near California.
Moon, Venus and Jupiter near California.
Venus gets light from the Sun that is twice as bright as Earth gets and 50 times more intense than the sunlight that shines on Jupiter. After Wednesday, Jupiter will start to steadily drop lower until it is eventually out of sight in mid-April, reports AFP.
The moon enters the celestial theatre show on March 25 and 26, with its thin crescent shape appearing to almost kiss Jupiter the first night, particularly in Alaska, Canada and the US , and Venus the second night. Live shots of the whole astronomical passes will be captured by the Slooh telescope project.
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