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NASA Goddard Contractor Shares Images of Venus' and Jupiter's Closest Approach

You can also observe the bright stars in Aries.

Francis Reddy, a science writer on contract to NASA Goddard, shared his images with Patch of the two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter, at their closest approach to one another on Tuesday (about 3 degrees apart). You can also observe several bright stars in Aries, as seen from Bowie, Md., said Reddy, who works at NASA Goddard's Astrophysics Science Division and who has authored a book that includes information on naked-eye astronomy.

"It's a great opportunity to get people interested in astronomy," Reddy said. "And it doesn't happen that often."

Reddy's image includes an inset showing a closeup of Jupiter on the same evening, revealing its retinue of four bright moons. Reddy said it made him think of it as "conjunction with a side of moons".

Conjunctions this close between Jupiter and Venus repeat every 24 years, according to space.com. The last time was March, 1998, when Venus passed within 2.2 degrees north of Jupiter. Looking ahead to March 22, 2036, space.com predicts the planets will repeat the dance, and appear to pass within 4 degrees of one another.

If you missed Tuesday night's show, on Wednesday, they will appear practically as close, separated by 3.1 degrees, according to space.com

"They'll slowly separate over the next few days and weeks, and will eventually be lost in the sun's glare," Reddy said.

Reddy also shared a a quick finder chart for Venus, Jupiter—and Mars, too!

Doug Love March 15, 2012 at 04:50 PM
If it clears up Saturday night, we'll be watching this from the Greenbelt City Observatory. Come out out to the end of Northway after dark. If you bring a telescope, you can drive up the hill.
Bailey Henneberg March 15, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Very cool Doug.

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