Before sunrise on January 22, 2019, look eastward or in the general direction of sunrise to see the conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter in the predawn/dawn sky. At conjunction, these two brilliant worlds shine north and south of one another on the sky’s dome, with Jupiter passing 2.5 degrees south of Venus.
You simply can’t miss these two brilliant beauties, because Venus and Jupiter rank as the third-brightest and fourth-brightest celestial bodies, respectively, after the sun and moon!
Of course, Venus and Jupiter are not actually close together in space. They just happen to reside along the same line of sight at conjunction. The king planet Jupiter is about 7 1/2 times Venus’ distance from Earth.
After the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter on January 22, 2019, watch for Jupiter to climb upward and for Venus to sink downward in the morning sky. You simply can’t mistake Venus for Jupiter, or vice versa, because Venus is by far the brighter of these two brilliant worlds.
Conjunctions of Venus and Jupiter are quite stunning because these two worlds reign as the two most brilliant starlike points of light in the heavens. Generally, a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter happens once a year. But this year, in 2019, we actually have two of them. Venus and Jupiter will meet up for another fine conjunction in the evening sky on November 24, 2019.
Not all Venus-Jupiter conjunctions are equal, however. The upcoming morning conjunction on January 22, 2019, is especially favorable because Venus is about as far as it can get from the rising sun (46 degrees west of the sun). By way of example, we allude to the Venus-Jupiter conjunction on August 21, 2003, which happened only one degree away from the sun, so that Venus-Jupiter conjunction in 2003 was totally lost in the sun’s glare.
Amazingly enough, it looks as though very similar Venus-Jupiter conjunctions recur in periods of about 24 years plus one week. Looking backward and forward, we find this series of Venus/Jupiter conjunctions taking place on nearly the same spot upon the zodiac (near the star Antares), with Jupiter passing to the south of Venus.
What’s more, each one of these Venus/Jupiter conjunctions on January 14, 1995; January 22, 2019 and January 29, 2043, finds Venus near its greatest elongation from the rising sun.
Bottom line: Enjoy the Venus-Jupiter conjunction in the predawn/dawn sky on January 22, 2019, as these two bright worlds meet each other at a near-maximum elongation from the sun.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.