Although they are in fact millions of miles apart, Venus and Jupiter will appear to touch each other in the night sky at the end of April 2022, in a phenomenon called a “planetary conjunction.” The two planets will appear closest together around 3 p.m. ET on April 30, with Venus 0.2 degrees south of Jupiter. From the Earth’s vantage point, the distance between the two planets will seem to be less than the diameter of the moon.
“Venus and Jupiter are typically the two brightest planets in the sky, so they can put on quite a show when they are in close conjunction. It is a beautiful sight and easy for everyone to see,” said Patrick Hartigan, a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University in Houston.
According to Professor Hartigan, the Venus-Jupiter conjunction happens roughly once a year, but this year the two planets will appear much closer than they usually do. The last time Venus and Jupiter were closer than this year’s conjunction was August 2016, although they were more difficult to spot then, since they were also closer to the Sun.
Stargazers will have great viewing opportunities in the early morning hours of April 30 and May 1, when they could spot the conjunction easily, without needing to use a telescope. Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere should look along the southeastern horizon just before dawn, while it is still dark enough to see some stars.
In the Southern Hemisphere, although the conjunction will be visible under the same conditions, the two planets will appear above the eastern horizon. Moreover, unlike in the Northern Hemisphere, Venus will appear above Jupiter on April 30 and below Jupiter on May 1.
In the nights leading up to the conjunction, the moon will gradually become less visible as it transitions to a new moon on April 30, making the conjunction between the two planets more visible. However, the sky will need to be clear to allow stargazers optimal viewing conditions.
While watching this conjunction, stargazers will also have a chance to see another spectacular celestial event, when Mars and Saturn will roughly align north of Venus and Jupiter.