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Close Planetary Fun Above Oregon / Washington Coast, Seattle, Portland Tonight and Thurs

Published 03/01/01 at 6:42 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Close Planetary Fun Above Oregon / Washington Coast, Seattle, Portland Tonight and Thurs

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(Yachats, Oregon) – If there's ever a reason to look up tonight on the Washington coast or Oregon coast in the next two nights, here it is. Venus and Jupiter have been edging closer together throughout the month. Overnight tonight and tomorrow they do the conjunction thing, practically bumping against each other from the viewpoint of Earthlings.

Above: planetary conjunction in Seaside several years ago – photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

According to OMSI astronomy expert Jim Todd in Portland, Oregon, it's going to be a stunning sight. At the conjunction, they'll pass within a half degree of each other – roughly the size of the full moon.

EarthSky.org said for the past month they've been easy to spot around dusk near the direction of sundown, so those of you who have taken blue hour shots on the coasts of Washington or Oregon probably already snagged the two brightest planets we have in our solar system.

Courtesy Earthsky.org

The conjunction officially takes place at 3 a.m. on Thursday (wee hours of tonight).

During this time and overnight tomorrow, you'll be able to see them inside a binocular's field of view, the publication said.

“After their conjunction, Venus and Jupiter will still shine close to each other in the west shortly after sunset,” EarthSky.org said. “Then, as the month proceeds, Venus will climb higher each evening in the twilight sky. Meanwhile, Jupiter will drop closer to the horizon. By the end of this month, Jupiter will be difficult to spot in the sunset glare.”

According to the publication's star charts, Jupiter will drop away from Venus fairly substantially within a day.

Jupiter is pretty bright at a -2.1 magnitude, while Venus is an impressive -4.0 magnitude.


Oregon Coast Beach Connection photo: another planetary conjunction near Manzanita

Now, will the weather on the Washington coast or Oregon coast cooperate? Not too likely tonight for the upper half of Oregon's coast and the Washington coast – though there may be brief breaks. The south Oregon coast looks a little better for viewing, with more periodic breaks, forecast as mostly cloudy by the National Weather Service (NWS). Spots like Coos Bay or Gold Beach will get you more glimpses than Seaside or Forks.

Washington Coast Weather - Oregon Coast Weather

However, Portland and many inland places will be seeing periodic breaks as well.

In any case, keep looking to the west on these next couple of nights.

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Another fab planets photo, this time including an Earth-lit moon above Portland - Oregon Coast Beach Connection


Bandon, courtesy Manuela Durson (see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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