Venus and Jupiter will approach each other in the night sky on Wednesday (March 1) during a meeting between the solar system’s record-breakers, the hottest planet and the largest.
During the close approach between the two planets, Venus and Jupiter will pass within just 29.4 arc minutes, or about half a degree, of each other, according to In the Sky (opens in a new tab). They are so close that the two planets appear to “kiss” in the night sky. (Your clenched fist held at arm’s length covers about 10 degrees of the sky.)
From New York City, the conjunction will appear at about 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT), when the two planets are about 23 degrees above the horizon to the west. Venus and Jupiter will then sink towards the horizon and will set around 2.5 hours after the sun. The moment of closest approach will occur at 12:05 p.m. EST (0505 GMT) on Thursday (March 2).
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During the close approach, both planets will be in the constellation of Pisces. Venus will have a magnitude of -4.0, while Jupiter will have a magnitude of -2.1, with the minus prefix before both magnitudes indicating particularly bright objects above Earth.
“They will be close enough to fit within one’s field of vision telescopebut will also be visible to the naked eye or through binoculars,” wrote In the Sky.
The second planet from the sun, Venus, is also the solar system’s hottest world. Venus is hotter than Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, because it has a thick atmosphere that traps heat and causes an extreme greenhouse effect.
Surface temperatures on Venus get as hot as around 900 degrees Fahrenheit (475 degrees Celsius), which is sufficient to melt lead. The planet is also characterized by volcanoes, some of which may still be active. Volcanic activity, if ongoing, can help increase temperatures by suffocating the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.
Jupiter is much further out in the solar system – it is the fifth planet from the Sun – and is therefore much cooler than Venus, with an average temperature of around minus 238 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 150 degrees Celsius).
While it loses the temperature contest, Jupiter cannot be challenged in terms of size. The massive gas giant has a diameter of about 88,846 miles (142,984 kilometers), while Venus’ diameter is only 7,520 miles (12,103 km). You can fit around 1,400 Venuses inside the gas giant.
This huge difference in size means that while Venus is much closer to Earth than Jupiter, the gas giant will still have a larger angular size in the night sky on Wednesday compared to the other planet from the Sun. Jupiter will have an angular size of about 33″3, while the angular size of Venus will be 12″2.
If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Venus and Jupiter during the close encounter, our guides can too best telescopes and best binoculars is a great place to start.
If you want to take pictures of the night sky, check out our guide on how to photograph the moonas well as ours best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
Editor’s note: If you snap a photo of Venus and Jupiter’s close approach and want to share it with Space.com readers, send your photos, comments, and name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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