Venus And Jupiter Will Appear As A "Double Star" Tonight

If you've been watching the night sky over the past couple weeks, you've seen two bright objects in the night sky that appear to get closer to each other. Those two bright objects are Venus and Jupiter, and Tuesday night, June 30th is the night when both planets will converge on a course that will put them in near-perfect alignment as seen from Earth.

If you happen to miss the skies tonight, the planets will converge again on August 27, 2016. According to Sky & Telescope Contributing Editor Fred Schaaf, this next year or so of Venus-Jupiter conjunctions mirrors a series of close encounters that took place between the years 3 and 2 B.C., which (some claim) resulted in the events being called the Star of Bethlehem.

If you can't see the YouTube video above, here's the direct link: https://youtu.be/_ppuCZR8Mkw

If you plan on visiting Griffith Observatory, there is free admission (as always), and it will be open until 10:00pm. Griffith is also hosting a Sunset Walk and Talk Event at 8:00pm. It's a sunset hike led by a Park Ranger and a Museum Guide. The hike starts on the Observatory's West Terrace, proceeds up the Charlie Turner trail to the Berlin Forest on the hill just north of the Observatory, and then returns to the West Terrace. The distance covered is about half a mile over the course of an hour at a very moderate pace with stops along the way to discuss the highlights and history of Griffith Park, and objects visible in the evening sky.

Venus and Jupiter are 417 million miles apart, but to our vantage point they will both appear to be in the same position in the sky. Venus is the brightest of the two planets. Sometimes it appears so bright that it can actually cast shadows on the ground. In terms of size, Venus and Jupiter are very different. The diameter of Venus is only 12,103 km, while the diameter of Jupiter is 142,984 km.

When you compare the two planets, Jupiter is 11.8 times bigger than Venus. You could fit almost 1,400 Venuses inside Jupiter.

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