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Space

Watch the sky: Venus, Jupiter to 'pair up' Tuesday

February 23, 1999
Web posted at: 3:50 p.m. EST (2050 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Just after sunset Tuesday, the planets Venus and Jupiter will appear to "pair up" in the west-southwest sky for the first time in nearly a quarter century in an event known as a "conjunction."

The planets, which will look like bright stars low on the horizon, will appear to almost overlap each other.

It marks the last time this century the two planets will pair up.

If skies are clear, the conjunction will be almost impossible to miss, as Venus and Jupiter will be quite bright in the night sky.

Peak viewing time will be half an hour to 1 1/2 hours after sunset. The planetary event will be visible across the globe, but it will be best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in western Europe and eastern North America.

Venus, the brighter of the two, will be slightly lower in the sky and a little to the right of Jupiter.

While the two planets will appear from Earth to be quite close together, the pairing is an optical illusion -- in reality they are hundreds of millions of miles apart.

Planetary conjunctions are relatively rare event. The last time Venus and Jupiter paired up in the sky was February 17, 1975. The next Venus-Jupiter conjunction will happen again on August 27, 2016.

A close pairing of these two planets occurred on June 17, 2 B.C., and some experts speculate that event might account for the Star of Bethlehem.


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RELATED SITES:
Exploring the Planets - Cyber-Center
Jupiter Events
Planetary Fact Sheets
   •Jupiter
   •Venus
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