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Venus and Jupiter meet in the dawn sky

The bright planets pass within 2° of each other Tuesday morning.

VenusJupiter_031512
A Venus-Jupiter conjunction
The two brightest planets had a stunning conjunction in March 2012. Brilliant Venus then appeared 3° to the upper right of slightly fainter Jupiter. This week, the two planets approach within 2° of each other.
Jamie Cooper
If you’ve been watching the predawn sky the past few weeks, you’ve seen Venus and Jupiter edging closer to each other. 

The two meet in a spectacular conjunction Tuesday morning, when Venus passes 2° north (to the upper left) of its companion. The pair rises shortly after 4 a.m. local time and climbs nearly 20° high in the southeast an hour before sunrise. 

Venus shines at magnitude –4.4, about 10 times brighter than magnitude –1.8 Jupiter. 

The conjunction looks best with the naked eye and binoculars, but it won’t hurt to target the two individually through a telescope. Venus shows a disk that measures 21" across and appears slightly more than half-lit, while Jupiter spans 33" and displays at least two conspicuous cloud belts.

For more nightly observing targets, follow The Sky This Week.

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