Venus And Jupiter Set For A Close Encounter Tuesday Night

A NASA projection shows the path of Venus and Jupiter; the two planets will converge in the Earth's sky Tuesday night. (YouTube)
A NASA projection shows the path of Venus and Jupiter; the two planets will converge in the Earth's sky Tuesday night. (YouTube)

It's not as if two worlds will collide tonight — Venus and Jupiter are only converging into a small area of the Earth's sky. NASA says the two bright planets will be "a jaw-dropping one-third of a degree apart."

That distance is smaller than the width of a full moon, as seen from Earth's surface.

"You'll be able to hide the pair not just behind the palm of your outstretched hand, but behind your little pinky finger," NASA says.

And unlike some other astronomical phenomena, this convergence should be easily visible: Just look to the west around sunset. That's where you'll find Venus and Jupiter, if the sky is relatively clear.

"Conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter are far from rare events," notes Space.com. But the site adds that tonight's "unusually close" conjunction is worth seeing — and it adds that this is both the closest and the last pairing between the two planets in the current 24-year cycle.

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