Wow! The sky’s brightest and second-brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter – are teaming up to give the closest planet-planet conjunction of 2014. Simply look eastward an hour or more before sunrise, starting somewhat before mid-August, to witness these two dazzlingly-bright beacons beaming close together in the eastern sky. They’ll be closest around August 18. Then these two brilliant worlds will only be about 1/5 degree apart (the diameter of the moon spans 1/2 degree). Watch for them! It’ll be the only Venus/ Jupiter conjunction until July 1, 2015. And it’ll be the closest Venus/ Jupiter conjunction until August 27, 2016.
The chart at the top of this post shows the view on August 14. Jupiter will climb closer to Venus day by day, until the king planet finally meets up with the queen planet on August 18. So they’ll be lots of fun to watch each day, beginning now and through the end of this month (at least!).
Venus and Jupiter shine super brilliantly in our sky because their cloud cover reflects a high percentage of the incoming sunlight hitting their surfaces. Venus is always bright because it’s relatively close to our planet Earth. Jupiter always shines brightly in our sky, too, because of the king planet’s sheer size. Although Jupiter lodges out there at about 4 times Venus’ distance from Earth at present, a telescope shows Jupiter’s disk to be some 9 times larger than Venus’ disk.
Venus and Jupiter rank as the third-brightest and fourth-brightest bodies in all the heavens, respectively, after the sun and moon.
Bottom line: Start watching now for the great conjunction of the sky’s brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter. They’ll be closest around August 18. The next great conjunction of these two worlds won’t come until July 1, 2015. Then Venus and Jupiter will be in the evening sky.