A nighttime kiss is about to take place between Venus and Jupiter

When I went outside after dinner to take care of our chickens last night, I literally gasped. Two dazzlingly bright objects were close together in the sky. I felt a tingle of joy and a moment of calm. I experienced what psychologists call awe, an emotion that can relieve stress and calm nerves. What doesn’t need that?

I’m taking my family outside after sunset tonight to experience this warm and lovely feeling of awe. Because these two bright objects – Venus and Jupiter – will be even closer than usual.

The astronomers at the American Museum of Natural History have been getting closer and closer for a little nighttime kiss, according to Jackie Faherty.

Obviously, the planets aren’t going to kiss in space. They’re actually 400 million miles apart, Faherty says. That’s more than four times the distance between us and the sun.

The Venus-Jupiter conjunction is what astronomers call it. “Venus is passing Jupiter as they both orbit the sun,” Faherty says. “The inner planets move a lot faster than the outer planets.

As the orbits align, they will seem to be roughly half a degree distant from our viewpoint on Earth. This equates to the width of a pencil eraser held at arm’s length in the sky as the two planets remain separated. To witness this stunning spectacle, venture outside once nightfall emerges and peer westward towards the sunset. According to Diana Hannikainen, an editor working for Sky & Telescope magazine, it will be difficult not to spy these dual bright celestial objects. ”Venus is situated on the right and appears brighter than Jupiter which can be found on its left,” she notes.

That’s the feeling of awe, Shiota says, which can give us perspective and be humbling. “It seems to calm us down a little bit in a powerful way.” If you miss it tonight, check back on Thursday night. The planets will still seem quite close, continuing their celestial dance, but soon they’ll return to arms-length separation.

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