Venus and Jupiter

Venus and Jupiter

The two brightest points of light in the night sky are having a bit of a get-together. They’re quite low in the southwest as the Sun sets, though, so there’s not a lot of time to look for them before they set.

The brighter light is Venus, the second planet from the Sun. It’s just beginning a run as the “evening star,” so it’s climbing a little higher each night. By year’s end, it’ll be in view for a couple of hours.

Venus is just emerging from behind the Sun. So right now, sunlight is illuminating most of the planet’s hemisphere that faces our way — one reason it looks so bright. On the other hand, it’s about as far away as it can get without being hidden behind the Sun. That takes away some of its luster. Put them together, though, and Venus shines brightly.

Venus’s companion is Jupiter, the Sun’s largest planet. It stands a little to the upper left of Venus this evening.

While Venus is moving away from the Sun as seen from Earth, Jupiter is dropping toward it. It’s also near its greatest distance from Earth, which means it’s not at its peak brightness. Even so, it still outranks every other planet and star in the night sky other than Venus.

Look for this brilliant duo beginning shortly after sunset. You’ll need a clear horizon to spot them. But they should be easy to pick out through the fading twilight. And watch over the next few days as they slide past each other, with Venus climbing higher and Jupiter dropping from sight.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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