‘Dance of the planets’ Why Venus and Jupiter are more visible in the night sky right now

Skywatchers have been treated to a spectacular sight over the past few nights.

Venus and Jupiter have been more visible than normal, lining up with the moon and visible to the naked eye.

“They are of course, two planets in our solar system that are actually very far apart from one another,” said Mike Jensen, planetarium and science gallery program supervisor at the Manitoba Museum. “But they are orbiting The Sun just as we are. So there are times throughout their orbits where from Earth, from our vantage point here on our planet, the two appear to come close together to one another in our sky. And that happens for all the planets that are closer to us.”

Jensen said Venus looks bright because of its proximity to The Sun, while Jupiter is bright due to its size.

Venus and Jupiter near Berens River (source: Blaikie Schwarz)

While the two planets look only a few degrees apart, they’re actually millions of kilometres apart.

“This sort of dance of the planets can happen in our skies almost at any time of the year. It just so happens that this one is with those two bright planets. It’s happening in the early evening as the sun is setting, they’re practically the first two objects that are happening. So, this kind of unique set of circumstances doesn’t happen too often.”

For those stargazers who are still wanting to enjoy the show, Jensen says to keep watching.

“Over the next few nights, those two planets are going to continue to get closer and closer to one another in our sky,” he said. “Again, they’re not actually getting closer, but just from our vantage point they are, and by the end of next week, around March 2, they’re actually going to be just a half a degree apart in our sky, which means that there’ll be right side-by-side and so I think that’ll be an even more spectacular sight.”

Jensen adds on March 22, people should see a similar lineup of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon, but the two planets will be switching spots, with Venus closer to the ground.

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