Updated: Unique Convergence of Venus, Jupiter for Oregon, Coastline
Published 06/30/2015 at 2:34 AM PDT
(Portland, Oregon) – The skies above inland Oregon and even the coast should be clear tonight and tomorrow, so make sure you look up. Our distant planetary neighbors, Jupiter and Venus, will be practically hand-in-hand in the west – their nearest approach in over a decade.
OMSI astronomy expert Jim Todd said you don't want to miss this celestial show, one that's been brewing a while.
Both planets have been moving closer and closer over the last month. But Tuesday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 1, you'll see them at their tightest gathering.
Todd said they will be separated by less than half a degree - or the width of the disk of the full moon,
“Even though conjunctions are not that rare, this series between Venus and Jupiter is the best in 15 years,” Todd said.
Todd said for the best sighting, look westward and high in the early evening, just a half hour after sunset, which happens right about 9 p.m. Venus will be much brighter, although its actual size is one tenth that of Jupiter's. This is because Venus is covered in thick, highly reflective clouds of carbon dioxide, and it is about 56 million miles away. Meanwhile, Jupiter is much more distant at 550 million miles from the Earth.
“You don't need any optical aid to enjoy the event but binoculars will make the pair even more obvious and even through a small telescope their shapes will be easily seen,” Todd said. “With clear skies, Venus is often easy to spot just minutes after sunset with Jupiter showing up somewhat later. The event will be visible from both the northern and southern hemispheres.”
The forecast calls for clear skies for both inland Oregon and the coast on both nights, altough partly cloudy for the Oregon coast.
After July 1st, Todd said both planets will appear to quickly separate and sink closer to the horizon.
“They'll be lost in the glare of the sunset by the end of the month,” Todd said. “Both will reappear in late August as bright morning stars visible before dawn. Venus and Jupiter will offer one last opportunity for an amazing photo at dusk. As a grand finale, the planets will be joined by the thin crescent moon on July 18th.”
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