Astronomy Essentials

Don’t miss Jupiter and Venus at dawn!

Astronaut Scott Kelly captured this photo of Jupiter and Venus (brighter) from space in 2015, while serving aboard the International Space Station. He re-posted it on his Twitter feed last week, to celebrate the Houston Astros winning the World Series. In November 2017, we’ll see Venus and Jupiter close again!

The two brightest planets visible from Earth are Venus and Jupiter. Only the sun and moon outshine them. When these two worlds come together in our sky, it’s a very special time to be outdoors, gazing skyward. They were last visible near one another, in the west after sunset, in August of 2016. They’ll be extremely close again – another conjunction, this time in the east before dawn – in November, 2017. At conjunction, Venus and Jupiter will be less than a moon-width apart!

When should you watch? They are closest on the sky’s dome on and around November 13, 2017. You’ll be looking east before sunup. Venus has been there for some months, very bright. It’s low in the sky at dawn now; you’ll want an unobstructed horizon (no trees or tall buildings). Only two such bright planets could withstand so much twilight in the sky. But indeed … these two worlds are bright!

Jupiter’s very recent conjunction with the sun – when it was traveling more or less behind the sun from Earth – happened on October 26. That event marked Jupiter’s official transition out of the evening sky and into the morning sky.

So Jupiter has just emerged from the dawn. After it passes Venus on November 13, Jupiter will ascend higher in the predawn sky each day.

Max Shannon in Israel caught Jupiter below Venus on the morning of November 10. On November 13, these 2 bright worlds will be less than a moon-width apart.

A conjunction happens when two worlds have the same right ascension on Earth’s sky dome.

Watch for them for as many days as you can after November 13, too.

They’ll be beautiful.

Don’t miss the Venus/Jupiter conjunction on or around November 13, 2017. Read more.

What’s more, the waning moon will come along, just in time to join the show. Let the waning crescent moon guide your eye to Jupiter and Venus on or before the mornings of November 16 and November 17.

Those are, coincidently, very close to the peak mornings of the Leonid meteor shower; it peaks on the mornings of November 17 and 18. So if you’re in a dark location, watching for meteors, be sure to stay until Venus, Jupiter and the moon all rise.

And wow! Just as Venus and Jupiter are closest, the moon will be there, too. Let the moon be your guide to the early morning planets on November 13, 14, 15 and 16. Read more.

Bottom line: The Venus-Jupiter conjunction will be on the morning of November 13. But don’t plan to watch just one day … their meeting will be a cosmic do-si-do that’ll last many days.

Photos and video of Venus and Jupiter, from 2016’s conjunction

November 12, 2017
Astronomy Essentials

Like what you read?
Subscribe and receive daily news delivered to your inbox.

Your email address will only be used for EarthSky content. Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from 

Deborah Byrd

View All