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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

Bright planets – west after sunset – Venus and Jupiter!

Bright planets – west after sunset – Venus and Jupiter!

Venus and Jupiter in purple twilight sky, in a tropical setting, above an ocean.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Stephen Humphrey in Punta Mala, Costa Rica, has sent in the 1st image we’ve seen so far of the sky’s 2 brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter – near each other in the west after sunset. This is the 1st of many, we’ll bet! These 2 bright planets are very noticeable now, in the western twilight. They’ll become even more noticeable as this month passes. Thanks, Stephen

Bright planets: Start watching for Venus and Jupiter!

Venus and Jupiter are the two brightest planets visible from Earth. And – throughout February 2023 and into March – you can easily spot dazzling Venus and bold Jupiter near each other in the west after sunset. Venus is the brighter world. Start looking near the sunset point, as twilight falls. Venus and Jupiter will pop into view before any of the stars. And then … keep watching. The pair will creep closer together as February passes.

At their closest, on March 1, 2023, Venus will pass 0.5 degrees (the width of a full moon) from Jupiter on the sky’s dome. Stunning sight!

But you’ll enjoy them most if you start watching, then look outside every evening to see them draw closer, and closer, on the sky’s dome.

By March 1, Venus and Jupiter will fit inside a single binocular field of view.

Now on sale! The 2023 EarthSky lunar calendar. A unique and beautiful poster-sized calendar showing phases of the moon every night of the year. Treat yourself!

Steep green ecliptic line with Jupiter and Venus and 2 positions of thin crescent moon.
Don’t miss Venus and Jupiter around the evening of February 21, 2023. On the evenings around then, the young moon will return to the evening sky … and sweep past the pair.
Horizon view with steep green ecliptic line and large and small dot next to each other near ground.
On and around March 1, 2023, you can glimpse as the sky’s 2 brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, sliding past each other on the dome of the sky. As seen from North America, their closest pairing is shortly after sunset on March 1. They’ll pass approximately a full moon’s width, or half a degree, apart. Chart by John Goss/ EarthSky.

How bright are they?

They are very, very bright! You can’t miss them if you look west after sunset.

By early March, when the two are closest, Jupiter will be shining at -2.1 magnitude. Meanwhile, Venus shines at a whopping -4.0 magnitude. In fact, Venus ranks as the 3rd-brightest natural body in the sky, after the sun and moon. Venus is so dazzlingly bright that some sharp-sighted people can even spot it in daylight.

By the way, the view changes with time depending on your location on the globe. For a more precise star chart from your location, try Stellarium.

Submit your photos of the Venus and Jupiter conjunction to EarthSky Community Photos.

Three panels showing positions of Jupiter and Venus next to steep green ecliptic line on 3 successive days.
Venus and Jupiter shine brightly in the west after sunset and edge closer together throughout February 2023. Venus is the brighter of the 2 planets. On February 28, 2023, they are approaching a close conjunction. The Venus and Jupiter conjunction happens on March 1. Watch for them each evening in the fading twilight. Venus is shining at -4.0 magnitude and Jupiter at -2.1 magnitude. Both planets set roughly 2 hours after sunset. Even though they are too far apart in early February to fit into the same field of view of most telescopes, they’ll easily show up in a pair of binoculars, especially as February passes. Then, in early March … wow-zer! Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

Bottom line: What’s that dazzling scene in the west after sunset? It’s the Venus and Jupiter conjunction! They’ll be closest around March 1, 2023.

For more great observing events in the coming weeks, visit EarthSky’s night sky guide


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