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Conjunctions and Occulations

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter

An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

A very nice evening conjunction between a crescent Moon and Venus will occur this evening, March 22. The pair will be just under 5° apart and will grace the sunset until well after dark, setting after 9pm. Venus is currently shining brightly at -4.0 magnitude, a nice match for a 10% illuminated waxing Moon.

Mercury and Venus will be in a close conjunction this evening. While the pair has been drawing closer for the last week, tonight will see them at their closest, about 38′ separation.

Look for the bright planet Venus low in the sunset. Mercury will slightly down and to the north of Venus. A separation of 38′ is just a bit more that the width of the full Moon. Both objects are fairly bright, with Venus shining at -3.9 magnitude and Mercury at -0.7. Bright enough to be quite obvious, the pair will be 17° above the horizon at sunset.

Over the coming week the pair will slightly separate. Mercury will be at maximum elongation on January 14th, after which it will begin its slide back into the sunset.

Over the next week Mercury and Venus will rendezvous in the sunset. This evening will see the two separated by 48′, well under one degree. This will close to about 38′ on the evening of January 10th, just a little over the width of a full Moon apart. Both objects are fairly bright, with Venus shining at -3.9 magnitude and Mercury at -0.7. Bright enough to be quite obvious, the pair will be 17° above the horizon at sunset.

This evening, Dec 22nd, will see a brilliant Venus paired with a very thin crescent Moon. Look for the pair to appear just 12° above the setting Sun. Venus will set at 18:50HST, about one hour after sunset. A 1.8% illuminated Moon will be a nice match for Venus shining brilliantly at -3.9 magnitude. Separation will be just under 6°.

Tonight the Moon and Jupiter will be close. The Moon will rise first, followed by Jupiter rising about 22:19HST. The Moon will be about 78% illuminated and about 9° from the bright planet. Tomorrow night the Moon will have moved to the other side of Jupiter and be a bit closer, about 7° separation.

Tonight the Moon and Jupiter will be close. The Moon will rise first, followed by Jupiter a few minutes after midnight. The Moon will be about 59% illuminated and about 12° from the bright planet. Tomorrow night the Moon will have moved to the other side of Jupiter and be much closer, about 5° separation.

Tomorrow morning the Moon and Jupiter will be close. The Moon will rise first, followed by Jupiter at 01:34 to be almost 65° above the eastern horizon at sunrise. The Moon will be about 32% illuminated and about 6° above a bright Jupiter. The next day the Moon will have moved to the other side of Jupiter and be a bit further apart, about 10° separation.

Over the next few days the planet Mars will pass the bright star Antares. The two appear so similar in color and magnitude that the star’s name derives from Mars… The name Antares is from Anti-Ares or opposite of Mars. Recalling that the Greek name for the god of war Mars was Ares.

These two will appear close for several days, passing closest on the September 27th at a distance of 3.1°. Mars will be shining brightly at magnitude 0.8 while Antares will be very slightly dimmer at 1.1, almost too close to differentiate. The coloration is also quite close, a ruddy orange, making the two almost indistinguishable. Mars will be the one to the west. Both will be easily visible in the south after sunset.

Tomorrow morning the Moon and Jupiter will be close. The Moon will rise first, followed by Jupiter at 03:06 to be almost 40° above the eastern horizon at sunrise. The Moon will be about 18% illuminated and about 8° above a bright Jupiter. The next day the Moon will have moved to the other side of Jupiter but will be even closer, about 7° separation.

Back in April and May we saw Venus pass Uranus and Neptune making for badly mismatched conjunctions. This week it will be Jupiter, the only planet able to shine brightly enough to make a good pairing for Venus.

Today the pair are drawing close, currently separated by 5.5°. Close approach will occur on the 17th when the pair will rise in the dawn separated by only 35′. The closest approach will happen well after sunrise in the islands, about 18:06HST at a separation of a mere 12′, easily close enough to fit in the same telescopic field. The major challenge here is that the conjunction will occur only 17° from the Sun.

Venus will outshine Jupiter by over a magnitude, -3.9 compared to Jupiter’s -1.8 magnitude. The sizes will be comparable as well. Venus will be smaller at only 10.3″ compared to Jupiter’s 31.6″ across at the equator.

In an odd twist, this conjunction will occur on the edge of the Beehive cluster, M44. The cluster is not likely to be very visible given the advent of dawn, but it will be there.