SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - A close encounter between Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets in the night sky, will reach a peak this weekend after inching closer to each other in the last few weeks. While not really close together (Venus is 48 million miles from Earth and Jupiter is 565 million miles away), that’s the way it will appear as they line up in the southwestern sky.
About an hour after the sun sets this weekend head outside and look southwest just after 6pm. You’ll see 2 ‘stars’ shining brightly very close to each other. The brighter star on the bottom right is the planet Venus, while the slightly fainter Jupiter will be on top left. The two planets will be just 1.4 degrees away from each other, or about the width of your index finger at arm’s length. The two will be closest to each other Sunday evening.
You’ll need to have an unobstructed view in the direction of sunset as the two planets will be low to the horizon. They will be the first objects in the sky to pop out after the sun goes down. You might also catch a glimpse of fainter Saturn too which will be up and to the left of Venus and Jupiter.
This conjunction of the 2 planets isn’t necessarily rare, but it also only happens on average about once a year (these two planets last passed very close to each other in January, but the next conjunction won’t occur until February 11, 2021). It’s an amazing sight as the two come together in the twilight sky.
A very close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter occurred around 2-3 B.C. Some astronomers believe this celestial event may have been what was recorded as “The Star of Bethlehem” in the Bible.
If you get outside and snap a picture of this planetary close encounter be sure to share them with us. You can upload them to us directly from your smart phone with the KSLA First Alert Weather app.