Last night’s Venus and Jupiter close encounter

Venus and Jupiter are going their separate ways.

It was nice while it lasted, but they are so different – they travel in different orbits, one’s a gas giant and the other a terrestrial rocky planet. Even when we saw them together last night, so close, so inviting, you could see it could never work.

Venus is slowly climbing out of the solar glare, Jupiter is sliding down and to the right behind the Sun.  They are only 25 degrees out from the Sun, so they set less than an hour after the Sun sets.  They were hard to find, but once found this bright couple was stunning.

We could just barely pick them out with the unaided eye after finding them in a low-power telescope, peeking around the clouds that looked like they exploded from a storm far to our west. Venus was intensely bright and Jupiter, so much further away and faint, like a ghost with tan bands.

The photos don’t do it justice. Venus in the photo is larger is than it looked to the eye in the telescope due to its intense brightness. Jupiter looks so much larger than Venus; even though it’s much further away.

jupiter venus IMG_4394

Venus and Jupiter about to be engulfed by the wavy cirrus clouds. Canon XS with a 250mm telephoto at f/5.6, 1/250 sec ISO 800.

jupiter venus IMG_4388

Venus (overexposed) ghostly Jupiter through an 8-inch dobsonian with a Canon XS 1/160 second at ISO 800.

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