For the first time in many moons, residents got a better glimpse at two of our galaxy’s brightest planets. Across the northern hemisphere, Venus and Jupiter were visible together in the night sky, making for a one-of-a-kind spectacle. With help from the Naperville Astronomical Association observers below peered into telescopes just after sun down for a closer look.
“In the evening sky, we got the planets Jupiter and Venus doing a dance,” said Drew Carhart, Publications Editor for the Naperville Astronomical Association. “We got Venus slowly going upwards and Jupiter slowly going down. So the two brightest things atttract the most attention when their closest together.”
About every 13 months, Venus and Jupiter move close together for what astronomists call a “Planetary Conjunction” but experts say it’s a bit of an optical illusion, as the planets are actually miles far apart.
“Venus – that bright star up there right now – is little over 80 million miles away from us tonight and right next to it is Jupiter but that’s actually over 530 million miles away from us so it’s many times for further,” said Carhart. “It’s just from our perspective here on earth going around the sun that they appear next to each other in the sky.”
Venus is roughly the size of earth and though Jupiter is about 11 times its size, Venus seems brighter because it’s closer to earth. Sky watchers got a great view of both planets from the riverwalk.
“We’ve looked at the moon before but never really the planet so it’s pretty cool,” said Theresa Patrono.
“I think it’s awesome that they came out here because I’ve never had a telescope before so it’s nice to be able to experience it,” said Sarah Brinkman.
“It’s just really fun to see science and its works in real life in a way,” said Annais Steptoe.
The Naperville Atronomical Association welcomes everyone who wants to join them in their star-gazing events.
“Just looking at it all – all of it’s spectacular no matter how many times you see it.” said 11-year-old Drew, one of the group’s newest and youngest members. “It just takes your breath away.” He ended his 11th birthday watching the recent planetary show.
Scientists say the next conjunction between Venus and Jupiter will be in may of 2013 and should appear even closer than they do now. For more information on the Naperville Astronomical Association or to join them on a star gazing event, visit www.stargazing.net/naa.
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