Even if you are not an avid star-watcher chances are that you may have already noticed two very bright objects in the night sky lately.
Most of the space weather images and talk lately have been about the beautiful Auroras that have resulted from the massive coronal mass ejection that took place early last week. Unfortunately, unless you live at high latitude your won’t be able to see that beautiful display with you own eyes.
However, there is another space event overhead at night right now that you can easily get glimpse of. All you have to do is look to the west/southwest sky about an hour after sunset to find Venus and Jupiter. If you haven’t noticed them in the sky over the past week or so you should definitely take time to check them out this week. Starting tonight (March 12th) the two brightest planets in the sky will be so close together, only 3 degrees apart, that you will be able to hide both of them with a few fingers at arm’s length.
CREDIT: Imelda B. Joson/Edwin L. Aguirre
Venus will be the brighter of the two planets and during this conjunction it will look like Jupiter moves in a line past it for the remainder of the month. The peak of this planetary conjunction will occur this Thursday March, 15th. The conjunction of Venus and Jupiter occur roughly every 13 months but what makes this event one of the best for several years to come is that they will be visible for so long in the evening sky. Venus and Jupiter are not the only planets that can be seen this March 2012 Mercury, Mars, and Saturn are also up there for you viewing pleasure.
I also found a pretty cool application for the iphone called “Star Chart.” Below is a screen shot of the program which allows you to hold your phone and simply point it to the sky and it will tell you what you are looking at. I don’t own an Android phone but I am sure they have a similar application that does the same thing.