- Jupiter and Venus will appear to almost touch in the night sky on Wednesday and Thursday.
- They’re the brightest objects in the sky after the sun and moon, so they’re visible to the naked eye.
- To spot this “spring star” planetary conjunction, look west after sunset.
Jupiter and Venus, the brightest planets in the sky, have been inching closer together for the last several weeks. This night-sky dance will climax after sunset this Wednesday and Thursday, as the two planets are set to appear as if they’re almost touching — a beautifully-bright Jupiter-Venus conjunction.
This planetary conjunction happens about once every 13 months, so this is your only chance to catch the spectacular event this year.
AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada is calling the Jupiter-Venus convergence the “spring star.”
—NASA (@NASA) February 24, 2023
That’s because March 1 is the first day of meteorological spring, when temperatures historically start to shift. That’s different from astronomical spring, beginning on March 17, which is based on the position of Earth and the sun rather than on weather.
Jupiter and Venus should be visible to the naked eye from almost anywhere on Earth, as long as weather permits and clouds don’t block your view. In fact, Venus is the third brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon. Jupiter is the fourth-brightest, which will make for a spectacular visual during the conjunction.
You don’t want to miss this spring star.
How to spot Jupiter and Venus in the sky
On March 1, look to the west. Near the horizon, about an hour after sunset, Jupiter and Venus will appear about half a degree apart — that’s the width of a full moon, or about one-quarter the width of your thumb at arm’s length, according to the Adler Planetarium.
In other words, extremely close together — so close it may be hard to tell the two apart. But if you look closely, Venus will be on the right and will appear slightly brighter than Jupiter.
The planets will still be close together the following night on Thursday, about one degree apart. They’ll creep away from each other night after night, Venus rising and Jupiter dropping toward the horizon and the sun.
If it’s too cloudy and you can’t see it with your own eyes, the Virtual Telescope Project plans to air its telescope view in a live broadcast of the Venus-Jupiter meet-up on Wednesday and Thursday.
Just make sure to glance up at the sky before 10:00 pm EST, or you’ll miss it. Both planets will set behind the horizon slightly after 10 pm.