Venus and Jupiter, 2 brightest planets in sky, will move close together for breathtaking viewing

(EndPlay Staff Reports) - People in the Northern Hemisphere are in for a celestial treat this week.

Jupiter and Venus, the two brightest planets in the sky, will move close together for some breathtaking viewing starting Tuesday night. They will be close enough to block them out of few using a few fingers at arm's length, reported Space.com .

Scientific American said to look for Venus passing to the northwest (upper right) of Jupiter. Venus also will be shining nearly eight times brighter than Jupiter.

The duo shines bright over the western horizon for about four hours after sunset Thursday for people at mid-northern latitudes.

The so-called planetary conjunction happens about every 13 months. But this year's dance between Jupiter and Venus should be one of the best because the planets will be visible for so long, peaking this Thursday night.

The show is the result of a perfect combination of factors, according to Earthsky.org. For one, Venus has to be at or near its farthest angular distance from the setting sun. Also, the pathway of the planets, or ecliptic, must be at its steepest angle with the sunset horizon.

National Geographic's website offered a helpful graphic depicting the distance between the two planets this week.

Here's a scientific factoid to ponder: Venus takes 224 days to make one orbit around the Sun; for Jupiter, that trip takes nearly 12 years because it circles the sun much farther away, according to National Geographic's website.

"It's incredible to think that these bright points in the sky are the reflection of sunlight off the cloud tops of Jupiter and Venus," Andrew Fazekas wrote on the site. "And remember that it's only an optical illusion that they appear side by side. While Venus is about 150 million km from Earth, Jupiter is more than 600 million km further away!"

But there's even more to this week's cosmic show.

Mars will be visible in the opposite direction at nightfall and likely visible until dusk, reported Earthsky.org .

YouReporter Martina sent in a photo of  what she thought were Jupiter and Venus taken from the Estate at Tradition.

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