A breathtaking astronomical event is fast approaching. Get ready for a rare three planet conjunction! Three visible planets, Venus, Jupiter and Mars, will all be getting very close to each other this month. I’ll make this an FAQ post of sorts.
What is a conjunction?
A conjunction is when two or more planets seem to come really close to each other as viewed from Earth. They can be predicted several thousand years in advance as the movement of planets is generally predictable with great accuracy.
What is happening this month?
This is going to be a great month to view conjunctions. These will be visible from about 3 hours before sunrise to when light appears and the planets can no longer be seen. So, if you want to see these events you’re going to have to set your alarms a little bit early!
On October 15th, Jupiter and Mars will reach their closest point, coming within half a degree of each other. To give you an idea, that is so close that they will fit across the face of the Moon! After that, on the morning of the 26th, Jupiter will converge with Venus in a tight one degree separation. Since they are both very bright bodies, they will be visible as two brilliantly bright points of light in the dawn sky.
How do I view these conjunctions?
Luckily, planets are bright objects. All you need to do to view is wake up at any time between 4 and 5 in the morning. As the date edges towards October the 26th, Jupiter and Venus will keep crawling toward each other. Don’t miss it!
If you want to make sure that the objects you are looking at are indeed the planets, refer to my previous post about Google Sky Map, a great free app that can show you the name of whatever star to point your phone at.