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Monday, 29 June 2015
Jupiter And Venus Set To Collide In Illusion
A natural coincidence will see the two brightest planets light up the sky as they draw unusually close together.
Jupiter and Venus will be roughly two thirds of a full moon's width apart
The spectacle, in which Jupiter will sit almost directly above Venus, will be visible through a small telescope or binoculars between 10.30pm to 11pm.
The planets may look they are about to collide due to an illusion caused by line-of-sight but will in fact be hundreds of millions of miles apart – roughly two thirds of a full moon's width apart.
After tomorrow they will start to go their separate ways again, with Venus below Jupiter.
Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "The spectacle of the two brightest planets so close together is beautiful and really unusual.
"Many people will wonder what they are seeing - but it's just a natural coincidence."
He added that the pair would make a "striking sight" for an evening or two on either side.
The planets will be seen slightly later in the north and west of the UK because it gets dark later.
Venus is now around 56 million miles from Earth and Jupiter almost 559 million miles.
Tomorrow night they will appear just 22 minutes of arc apart. For comparison, the full moon is 30 minutes of arc across.
At relatively low magnification Jupiter can be seen as a small circular disc accompanied by four bright moons. Venus will be a fat crescent.
A similar conjunction between the two planets will not be seen again from the UK until November 2019.
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