April 30, 2022: This is the morning of the Venus – Jupiter proximate conjunction. Mars and Saturn are nearby. Mercury is near the Pleiades in the west-northwest after sundown.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:48 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:48 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Daylight increases to fourteen hours today. During the next month, the daytime increases another hour at Chicago’s latitude.
The moon reaches its New moon phase at 3:28 p.m. CDT. At this time, the moon partially covers the sun. This partial solar eclipse is visible from southern South America and the southern Pacific Ocean. See this NASA resource for more details.
Brilliant Venus passes 0.5° from Jupiter this morning in a proximate conjunction, so named when Venus passes Jupiter at a distance of 0.5° or less. The two planets do not “merge into a single star,” but are seen as two very bright “stars,” very close together. The separation is about the diameter of the Full moon or the size of your pinky fingernail when your arm is stretched out.
The two planets are not at this conjunction separation that is easily observed until 2032, although other Venus – Jupiter conjunctions occur in the interim!
The two planets look near each other in the sky, but they are very far apart in the solar system. Venus is over 92 million miles from Earth, while Jupiter is nearly six times that distance.
Venus and Jupiter are among the brightest objects in the sky following the sun and moon. When Mars is near Earth, the Red Planet can appear brighter than Jupiter. Seeing Earth’s Twin Planet and the Jovian Giant close together is a striking visual event. This is one of those “do not miss” celestial events and it can be seen without a telescope or binocular.
Venus – Jupiter conjunctions are not rare. On average, Venus passes Jupiter every thirteen months. On some occasions, Venus passes close to Jupiter, 0.5° or less, the proximate conjunction.
Even with conjunctions occurring almost yearly, the next easily-observed proximate conjunction of Venus and Jupiter occurs on February 7, 2032. By the time the conjunction is visible in the northern states in the U.S. Eastern Time zone, the planets are already separated by more than 0.5°. Locations with favorable southerly latitudes see it earlier, with the planets closer together. Observers at more southerly latitudes in Central Europe and Africa see the two planets about 0.3° apart.
Interestingly, the orbital periods of Venus, Jupiter, and Earth nearly synch up every 24 years, nearly to the day, so that the conditions of the conjunctions are almost the same. During this 24-year period, Venus revolves around the sun 39 times, while Jupiter orbits twice.
Venus seems tethered to the sun and only wanders about 47° east or west of the central star. Some conjunctions occur when the two planets are in blinding sunlight and are difficult for casual observation. Venus can be seen during bright twilight when it is about 4° from the sun, while slightly dimmer Jupiter needs about 6° to be seen. On these conjunctions, the planets are near the horizon during bright twilight.
This morning, the two planets are close enough to fit into a telescopic eyepiece that yields about 75x. Venus shows a morning gibbous phase, 67% illuminated, while Jupiter’s moons Io and Callisto are west of the planet and Ganymede is east of Jupiter, likely outside the field of view that includes Venus.
For the next five Venus – Jupiter conjunctions, two occur when the worlds are near the sun and not easily seen. One of these is a proximate conjunction. Here are some notes for them:
|Future Venus – Jupiter Conjunctions|
|March 2, 2023||45 minutes after sunset, Venus is nearly 20° up in the west-southwest, 0.9° to the upper right of Jupiter.|
|May 23, 2024||At this daytime proximate conjunction Venus is only 3° west of the sun and 0.4° from Jupiter.|
|August 12, 2025||45 minutes before sunrise, Venus is over 22° up in the east. Venus is 0.8° to the lower right of Jupiter. This is the morning the heliacal rising of Sirius for the mid-northern latitudes, weather permitting.|
|June 9, 2026||45 minutes after sunset, Venus, 19° above the west-northwest horizon, is 1.6° to the upper right of Jupiter. Mercury is 13.6° to the lower right of Venus.|
|August 25, 2027||A daytime conjunction. Venus is 4.0° east of the sun, 0.6° to the upper right of Jupiter.|
Meanwhile this morning, Mars and Saturn are to the upper right of the two bright planets at conjunction. Mars is 16.0° to the upper right of Venus and over 14° above the east-southeast horizon. Saturn, 17.3° to the upper right of Mars, is over 20° up in the southeast. The four planets span 33.6°.
The gap from Jupiter to Saturn has been gently opening as the Jovian Giant inches away from the Ringed Wonder. Beginning tomorrow, with Venus east of Jupiter, the gap widens about one degree each day.
Mercury is putting on its best display of the year. Forty-five minutes after sunset, the speedy planet is over 10° above the west-northwest horizon and 1.5° to the left of Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades star cluster.
This evening Mercury sets 113 minutes after sunset. Beginning tomorrow, the planet starts to move back into bright twilight, setting a few minutes earlier each evening compared to the sunset time. In a week it loses 20 minutes of setting time compared to sundown.
Look at the planet and the cluster through a binocular and note the Hyades with Aldebaran, the Bull’s eye.
December 26, 2022: The five bright planet display continues after sunset. The moon is near Saturn. Mars passes Aldebaran.Keep reading
December 24, 2022: After sundown, the crescent moon joins the rare five-planet display with Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.Keep reading