February 17, 2023
See Jupiter and Venus Cross Paths on March 1st
Over the next few weeks, the pair of planets show the Solar System is a race track
Starting in mid-February until early March, look to the West about 30 minutes after sunset.
You'll see two bright dots in the sky. You can't miss 'em.
The one on top is Jupiter. The one on the bottom is Venus.
If you can, keep watching them each clear night. Something cool is abound.
Each night, they'll appear closer and closer to each other until March 1st. Steadily, Venus will appear higher and Jupiter will sink lower.
On March 1st, the pair will be at their closest. The flirtation peaks! In fact, they'll be so close, you could see both of them at the same time through a telescope. This is called a "conjunction".
After this, they'll go their separate ways.
Jupiter will eventually sink so low in the sky in the weeks afterwards that we won't be able to see it after sunset. Venus will keep getting higher and higher, and will be King of the Sunset through Spring and Summer, 2023.
What's going on?
I've made a video explaining why this dance of the two planets is happening.
Memories of December 2020
We saw something similar in late 2020 with Jupiter and Saturn. Each night, the two gas giants would get closer and closer until December 21 when they were at their closest.
For the weeks leading up to it, I had this profound sense that I could feel the Solar System in action. That the the planets were moving around in circles. Theoretical knowledge made visceral.
The Jupiter and Saturn conjunction is a rare phenomenon, happening about every 20 years.
Luckily, the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus is much more common, about every 3 years and 3 months.
Join the Mission!
I'm starting a new feature called Missions. These are easy-to-do challenges that get you looking at the sky and learning something new. They're for all ages and skill levels and can be done with the naked eye in light-polluted areas.
In this first one, I challenge you to go outside each clear night after sunset and take photos.
On March 2nd, I'll open up a submission form for you to send me your Mission data. This'll be photos you take, where you watched it, what you learned, etc...
This is still in beta (if you want to call it that), but I think it's pretty well formed.
I'll make missions every few weeks. If you're a parent and have a kid interested in the sky, but kinda don't know what to show them, I think this is a good place to start.
For now, these are free. But I limit specific feedback to people who are monthly Patreon supporters or give a donation.
Maybe I'll turn this into a service at some point, but wanted to start somewhere. Enjoy!