March 05, 2023
How Often do Jupiter and Venus Meet?
A refreshingly not-so-rare event
The last few weeks, you've likely seen myself and other media talk about Jupiter and Venus "meeting" in the sky. Maybe you've even taken photos over several days and seen them get closer and closer (if so, submit what you saw in my Mission!)
When objects in the sky "meet" like this, astronomers call it a "conjunction".
When events like this reach a wide audience, I brace for the cringe moment when news outlets declare it a "once-in-a-lifetime" thing, not to be missed. Gotta get those website clicks 🙄
Luckily, I didn't see very much of that. And maybe for good reason: this is not a rare event.
How often will we see bright Jupiter and Venus meet in the sky like this?
About every 3 years and 3 months
Yeah, shorter than I expected!
Only around every 3 years and 3 months, we would see Jupiter and Venus meet in the evening sky.
The slides above show the two planets at conjunction on these dates:
- Nov 24, 2019
- Mar 1, 2023
- Jun 8, 2026
- Sep 6, 2029
- Dec 7, 2032
- Mar 22, 2036
At first, I was kinda surprised that I didn't take note of the November 24, 2019 conjunction. I was very much into astronomy at that time.
How High in the Sky?
The reason why is probably because it would have been difficult to see both Jupiter and Venus. During that conjunction, Jupiter and Venus did not appear that high above the horizon before setting soon after.
At 5:00 PM, not long after sunset, they were already very low in the sky. Unless I had a completely unobstructed view of the horizon, this would have been very difficult to see.
Compare that with this March 1st, 2023 conjunction, which was quite high in the sky:
Every 3 Years and 3 Months in the Morning, too!
Jupiter and Venus are also visible in the morning. And morning conjunctions also happen about every 3 years and 3 months! Here's a list of the last few and upcoming ones:
- Oct 25, 2015
- Jan 22, 2019
- Apr 30, 2022
- Aug 11, 2025
- Nov 8, 2028
As an example, here's how the morning conjunction looked on January 22, 2019:
The Reasonable Gap
Up until a couple months ago, I was unaware that Jupiter and Venus met so regularly. Huge thanks to this post from Professor Patrick M. Hartigan for his research on this!
The gap between these conjunctions is juuuuuust right. Not too long to forget about, but not too short to take for granted.
Consider this: leap years and USA presidential elections happen less frequently than these planet meetups (and boy, do those seem to happen quicker and quicker as I get older).
And a bonus for the early risers: you get to enjoy it as much as the night owls.
Let's all do this again in June, 2026! That one will be warmer, too.