Tech & Science

Planets visible from Earth: How to spot Jupiter and Venus ‘kissing’

Just after sunset on Wednesday, Jupiter and Venus will appear embracing in the evening sky.

“Jupiter and Venus will reach their closest points of approach on the night of Wednesday, March 1,” Paul Delaney, emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of York, told “As the night progresses, it will dazzle in the western sky while it is still on the horizon.”

Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest objects in the sky after the Sun and Moon, should be clearly visible to most Canadians if clouds permit. According to Delaney, they appear to be distinct, but they appear to be very close together. To catch the celestial dance, make sure you have an unobstructed view and look west about 10 minutes after sunset to find Venus emerging from the twilight.

“Venus pops out very clearly, about two fist widths above the horizon,” Delaney explains. “Then wait a few more minutes and you’ll see Jupiter right above it, so look for her two brightest spots on the western horizon.”

Venus appears as a bright pinpoint of white light, while Jupiter is slightly dull. When the planets are closest, they appear to be as far apart as the width of the Moon before moving away.

“Anyone who has been watching the western sky for the last few weeks has likely noticed that Jupiter is sinking like a stone toward Venus and is getting closer and closer,” Delaney added. “And after Wednesday they will start to move apart again and move further and further apart.”

Venus and Jupiter, of course, are not actually close together in space, as Earth and Mars orbit the Sun between them.

“They are actually over 750 million kilometers apart,” says Delaney. “But from our vantage point, when we on Earth look past where Venus is in the outer solar system, what we see is that apparent alignment.”

With binoculars, you may be able to spot three or four of Jupiter’s large moons. With a telescope, you might even be able to see the tops of Jupiter’s clouds.

Elina Hyde is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at York University and Director of the Alan I Carswell Observatory in Toronto.If conditions are clear, the observatory will live stream the event on your YouTube channelbeginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Hyde told, “We expect the weather to be clear as we expect it to be a treat for both urban and rural audiences.” “The opportunity to see the planets next to us is always exciting. Seeing them up close in the sky gives us the opportunity to see the dynamics of celestial bodies at work.”

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