Venus aligns with Jupiter
30 June & 1 July 2015 -- Evening Sky
By Martin Lewicki, Adelaide Planetarium, South Australia.
Venus and Jupiter are well placed in the early evening sky for a close alignment on 30 June (1 July SH). Both will be 42° east of the Sun with the pair at only 0.4° apart making an eye-catching sight easily glimpsed by casual observers out and about after dusk.
While on average Venus and Jupiter align every 20 months or so they are not always that well placed for observation. Often they are too close to the Sun and lost in bright twilight. An example was the very close alignment during the famous five planet grouping of 17 May 2000. Venus and Jupiter were closer than any time in the 100 years 1950 to 2050 separated by a mere 0.01° and easily captured together in the one high power eyepiece view in a telescope. But at less that 7° from the Sun only the most assiduous observer would have attempted to spot them.
The most recent easily observed alignment was on the evening of 23 February 1999 at 28° east of the Sun favouring northern hemisphere observers. The next well-placed alignment of these two brightest of planets is on 2 November 2039 when the pair will be comfortably placed 45° west of the Sun in the pre-dawn hours a mere 0.22° apart!
Martin Lewicki is an Astronomy educator at the Adelaide Planetarium in South Australia. A member of the Astronomical Society of South Australia he heads their light pollution section and especially enjoys following the meanderings of the planets and looking out for those occasional enchanting groupings in the night sky.
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