Get up bright and early on Monday morning for a stellar treat.
We’re talking really bright—and really early.
An hour or so before sunrise, Jupiter and Venus will hover so close together that they could be hidden behind the tip of one’s pinky finger. Except you won’t want to, because this sight will make you gasp in wonder.
“Venus and Jupiter are converging in the dawn sky for a beautiful conjunction that will wake you up faster than a cup of strong coffee,” says NASA in the video below. They could even be mistaken for a supernova.
They’ve been inching closer and closer together for days now, and you may have already spotted them getting cosy. But on Monday morning their relationship, at least from where we sit gazing open-mouthed from humble little Earth, will go from platonic to physical as they tantalizingly appear to touch ever so slightly.
Venus shines six times more brightly than Jupiter, so it will be on top.
If you have binoculars, there's an added bonus: You'll get to see the Beehive Cluster, which is barely visible to the naked eye but will lend some starry light to the planetary festivities. Though 500 lightyears from Earth, "this busy cluster of stars," as NASA calls it, will infuse the spectacle with an extra dose of effervescence.
While the conjunction itself is not terribly rare, the brilliance of this one is, according to Astronomy magazine.
“Conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus are fairly frequent, occurring every 13 months on average, but not all are favorable,” said the magazine’s website, Astronomy.com. “Some occur too close to the Sun for us to see. Similar conjunctions repeat over a 24-year period.”
Their apparent proximity is another factor making this one extra-spectacular.
“Planets pair up plenty often in the sky, but rarely do they dance this closely,” noted Sky and Telescope.
Waking up between 90 and 60 minutes before sunrise is a good idea, said Earthsky.org, as is finding an unobstructed view of the north-northeastern horizon—basically, the direction of sunrise.
“All in all, the morning should be spectacular,” said Earthsky.org. “It’ll be the only Venus/Jupiter conjunction until July 1, 2015. And it’ll be the closest Venus/ Jupiter conjunction until August 27, 2016.”