A close conjunction of Venus and Neptune is coming soon
With 2020 just a few weeks old, get set for an amazing event in our Arizona skies!
One of the brightest planets and nearest to us, Venus, will come super close to the farther of the major planets, Neptune!
This very rare and unique event will take place for us on the evening of Jan. 27.
The event is known as a conjunction and there are quite a few of these types of events in every calendar year. The Sun, Moon and major planets all lie within a band of a few degrees in the sky, known as the ecliptic path.
We get to experience this belt or band as we take notice of the Sun during the calendar year. The Sun rises low in the southeast sky during winter months and then migrates towards the northeast sky during the summer months.
The ecliptic path is tilted by some 23.5 degrees above and below the equator…the tilt of the Earth’s axis.
Add to that is the fact that the Moon and the major planets all lie within a few degrees of the ecliptic plane.
This makes for many close encounters of the Moon and planets and the other planets to come close to each other in our night sky!
If you look to the southwest sky, just after sunset, you will see the bright and close planet Venus shine like a torch in the sky.
Venus is now some 111 million miles from Earth. Venus is the planet that comes closest to Earth and come within 25 million miles of us.
Neptune on the other hand is the most distant of the major planets, since the demotion of Pluto to a dwarf status.
Neptune is now some 2.8 million miles from Earth.
On the evening of Jan. 27, just after sunset and hopeful clear skies, both Venus and Neptune will appear in the same field of view in a small telescope!
This is quite amazing, as both objects will come within 1/12 of a degree apart!
The real truth is that you will need a telescope to see these two at their best!
Here is a view of what the two object will look like in a telescope:
You will have no problem finding Venus, but Neptune will appear as a tiny blue object in the same field or view.
Both planets will lie in the constellation of Aquarius and be high enough at sunset to view in clear skies.
Conjunctions of planets are very interesting and some have really received a lot of attention on Earth. From the birth of Christ, to symbolism in religion and the reign of Kings; conjunctions have always been something to study!
Here is a list of some conjunctions, both past and future:
And finally, for those of you that cherish very rare events in Astronomy, look no further than this listing.
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