This weekend offers a fantastic opportunity to see two of the solar system’s planets line up in the night sky.
Venus and Saturn will be in conjunction, meaning they’ll share the same right ascension — the equivalent of longitude in the celestial sphere. Shortly after, the two planets will make their closest approach to one another in the sky, an event known as an appulse.
The conjunction of Venus and Saturn will take place on Sunday (Jan. 22) at 2:36 p.m. EST (1936 GMT), according to In-the-Sky.org (opens in new tab). The pair should become visible from New York City around 5:18 p.m. just as darkness falls, shortly after the two make their close approach, or appulse, around 5:13 p.m. EST (2213 GMT). You can watch the Venus and Saturn conjunction in a free webcast at 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT) from the Virtual Telescope Project.
If you don’t have good viewing conditions in your area, you can still watch the event live thanks to a free webcast hosted by the Virtual Telescope Project. The livestream will start on Sunday (Jan. 22) at 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) and can be streamed via the project’s website (opens in new tab) or YouTube channel (opens in new tab).
Related: See Venus and Saturn snuggle in the sky Sunday (Jan. 22)
Interference from the moon should be minimal following January’s new moon on Saturday (Jan. 21). By Sunday evening, the moon will only be a 2% illuminated crescent.
The pair will be in the night sky just eight degrees below the moon on Sunday evening — just under the width of your clenched fist at arm’s length when held up to the sky. Venus should appear as a bright but small, featureless disk with a magnitude of around -3.9, indicating a fairly bright object. Venus will continue to rise in the night sky over the coming months and will become brighter throughout spring.
Meanwhile, Saturn will be significantly less bright on Sunday at magnitude +0.8, but its rings should be visible with even a low-powered telescope or binoculars. Saturn is moving in the opposite direction as Venus, currently sinking lower in the sky each night. By Feb. 16, Saturn will be totally unobservable as it enters solar conjunction, meaning it will be on the opposite side of Earth from the sun and will be obscured from view by the light of our star.
Though Venus and Saturn will appear close together in the sky from our vantage point on Earth on Sunday, the pair will actually remain separated by quite a distance. While their positions relative to one another change as they orbit our star, Saturn is currently some 914 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) (opens in new tab) from the sun, while Venus is 68 million miles (109 million km) away (opens in new tab), according to NASA.
If you don’t have all the gear you need to see the conjunction of Venus and Saturn, our guides on the best telescopes and best binoculars are a great place to begin. If you’re looking to snap photos of the event or anything else in the night sky, check out our guides on the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
Editor’s Note: If you get a great photo of the close approach or conjunction between Venus and Saturn and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to [email protected]
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