Jupiter Returns With A Bang In Close Conjunction With Venus

Venus glides only a little more than a quarter degree north of Jupiter Monday morning (Nov. 13) at dawn. Created with Stellarium

Yesterday, we saw some amazing closeups of Jupiter’s crazy, stormy atmosphere. Very soon, we’ll be able to see the planet with our own eyes thanks to a brief fling with Venus at dawn. On Monday morning, Nov. 13, Venus and Jupiter will be just 0.3° apart or less than half a moon diameter. The eye-catching pairing of the sky’s two brightest planets will be best visible about one hour to 45 minutes before sunrise.

Since they’ll be quite low in the eastern sky at the time, make sure you pick a place with a great view in that direction. Venus, about 15 times brighter than Jupiter, will pop out first. Look immediately to its right for Jupiter.  The last time the two planets were this close was on August 27, 2016 (0.1°). They’ll meet again for a much “looser” conjunction on Jan. 22, 2019.

A small telescope will show Venus and Jupiter together in the same low magnification (30x – 75x) field of view. Jupiter’s Galilean moons will also be visible. The time shown is around 6 a.m. CST. Created with Stellarium

Monday’s close pairing will also make for a nice opportunity to spot Jupiter in broad daylight. A small telescope will come in handy here: just keep it pointed at Venus through sunrise, and you’ll have no problem seeing Jupiter in the same field of view. Venus, which resembles a tiny full moon in a telescope, contrasts nicely with its larger, duller companion. If you examine the pair before sunup in your scope, all four of Jupiter’s brightest moons will be visible, conveniently splayed out on either side of the striped globe.

Venus and Jupiter were similarly close in the morning sky back on Aug. 18, 2014. Credit: Scott Harrington

Normally, I wouldn’t be eager to pursue Jupiter to the morning sky so soon after its conjunction with the sun (Oct. 26), but Venus makes finding it easier, plus the conjunction should be a beauty. Later next week, a delicate crescent moon appears on the scene, floating above Jupiter on the 16th and to the left of Venus on the 17th. As the days go by, Venus will continue to drop lower and lower and become harder to see. It’s slowly headed out of the morning sky and back into the evening. Jupiter does the opposite and becomes better placed in a darker sky by the end of the month.