Surprise Sighting for Star Gazers Tonight
Venus and Jupiter will be brightly visible and only three degrees apart tonight in the western skies.
If the storms blow through and leave us with a beautiful spring evening, be sure to look up. Venus and Jupiter will be having a close encounter of the planetary kind.
Just after sunset, people can see the planets Jupiter and Venus and then the moon, from highest to lowest, in the southwest sky, said Ward 2 Councilman Bill Moritz in an email.
Below the group, the planet Mercury will appear faintly, he said. Moritz is also a pilot and Boeing engineer.
If the clouds cooperate on Thursday night people will enjoy an impressive night sky, Moritz said. "Look toward the southwest just after dark. We have a thunderstorm moving in (tonight) but the rest of the sky is very clear."
The two planets will appear tonight in what astronomers call a conjunction, according to National Geographic. Venus and Jupiter—the two brightest planets to the unaided eye—will be only three degrees apart in the western skies, or the width of two fingers held up at arm’s length.
While the planets will appear to us earthlings to be almost on top of each other, the conjunction is an optical illusion. Venus is nearly 75.9 million miles away from earth, and Jupiter is seven times farther away at 524 million miles, according to National Geographic.
The planets will be visible for up to four hours after sundown, when they eventually sink below our horizon.
If you snap any photos of tonight’s celestial phenomenon, let us know! Email them to Lindsay.Toler@patch.com or mention @StLouisLindsay in your tweets. Or you can post them on the St. Louis Patch Facebook page.