TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A rare planetary conjunction is coming soon, and you won’t have to leave your backyard to be able to see it.
KSNT 27 News Stormtrack Meteorologist Ryan Matoush spoke with Brenda Culbertson, a Solar System Ambassador for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), about this interesting event. Now through March 2, the planets of Jupiter and Venus will enter a conjunction that will be visible as the two planets appear to come closer and closer together. While the planets may appear close, they are actually more than six billion miles apart.
“This event is a beautiful sight and can be easily photographed since the planets are very bright,” Culbertson said. “All you need is a clear western horizon and a clear evening to see the conjunction.”
A conjunction is described as a celestial event where two planets, a planet and the Moon or a planet and a star appear close together in the night sky, according to NASA’s website. While conjunctions have no great astronomical significance, they are nice to view.
Culbertson encourages those who wish to see the conjunction to simply walk outside at sunset on and look for the pair of planets above the western horizon. A clear view of the sky is necessary, and cloud cover could obscure the event. The best night to observe the convergence is March 1. No special equipment is needed to view the conjunction though binoculars will provide a better view.
“This is a very photogenic pairing of the planets, and many people have already taken photos of the progress,” Culbertson said.
Those who want a more structured event around the conjunction can go to an official viewing spot at the Banner Creek Science Center and Observatory on Wednesday, March 1, starting at 6:30 p.m. It can be found at 22275 North Rd. in Holton. Astronomers, including Culbertson, will also be on hand to answer questions during this event.