Garrett’s Blog: Venus & Jupiter Overlap June 30th; Star of Bethlehem

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Photo: Kirsty Jayne from June 29th, 2015

CIsCurcUEAEdnCY

You may have noticed two “bright stars” in the sky shortly after dusk recently.

The two bright spots are actually two of the brightest planets in the night sky: Jupiter & Venus.

Since planets orbit the Sun on the Plane of the Ecliptic, Venus has been visually getting closer to Jupiter in the night sky each day this month. The closest point will be Tuesday evening when both planets will appear on top of each other creating a very bright “star” in the western sky between 8-9pm June 30th. Astronomers call this overlap a conjunction.

A similar series of even closer conjunctions involving the star of Regulus occurred around 2,000 years ago and many scientists have suggested this was referred to as the”Star of Bethlehem” in Biblical times and recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Conjunctions aren’t rare but the close proximity this year is somewhat more unusual since both planets will only be 1/3 of a degree apart.

You’ll be able to see them in the western sky after sunset and the weather should be fine for excellent viewing the next few nights with only a small chance for a few thunderstorms with daytime heating and fading after sunset.

-Garrett

 

 

 

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