Mars and Jupiter conjunction on May 29
Mars and Jupiter conjunction
If you’re an early riser, maybe you’ve seen the four planets in the sunrise direction already? By June, all five bright planets will be up together, in the morning sky. And, on recent mornings, you’ve probably noticed red Mars inching closer to bright Jupiter. These two planets are neighboring worlds in our solar system, though they are currently separated by about 350 million miles (560 million km) and an asteroid belt. At their closest on May 29, they’ll appear separated by about the width of a full moon.
What is a conjunction? It can mean several things. Generally speaking, it means two objects are close on the sky’s dome. In the case of the May 29 Mars-Jupiter conjunction, it means Mars and Jupiter will have the same right ascension (like longitude on the sky’s dome).
Mars – and Jupiter – watching in 2022
In other words, on May 29, Mars and Jupiter will pass one another in our sky. Mars is lingering near the sunrise glare, while Jupiter is sweeping up and away from it in the sunrise direction at dawn. On the morning of their closest approach, May 29, Mars will appear to the right of Jupiter. After May 30, Mars will appear farther and farther to the left of Jupiter, as Jupiter sweeps up and away from Mars, heading toward its September 26 opposition. At opposition, Earth will be sweeping between Jupiter and the sun. And Jupiter will be rising in the east when the sun sets.
Mars comes to opposition only every other year. But it’ll have an opposition this year, so 2022 is a good-year for Mars-watching! Mars’ opposition will come on December 8, 2022.
The conjunction from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere
The May 29 Mars-Jupiter conjunction is visible from all parts of Earth. But our perspectives on the sky are different, from different parts of the globe. For those observing from the Southern Hemisphere, the ecliptic – or path of the sun, moon and planets – appears more perpendicular to the morning horizon than it does for us on the northern part of the globe.
This more vertical alignment places Mars almost directly above Jupiter before the conjunction. And it places Jupiter almost directly above Mars after the conjunction.
Bottom line: Watch for the Mars and Jupiter conjunction before sunrise on the mornings leading up to May 29, 2022. At their closest, the two planets will appear about a full moon’s width apart on our sky’s dome. But, in reality, they are millions of miles/kilometers apart in space.