Observatory open Tuesday for Jupiter-Venus conjunction

Observatory open Tuesday for Jupiter-Venus conjunction

The Rice University Campus Observatory will host a public viewing of a rare astronomical conjunction of Venus and Jupiter from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30.

The conjunction, which can be easily viewed almost anywhere in Houston, weather-permitting, features two of the night sky’s most brilliant objects, Venus and Jupiter. The two will make their closest approach —- closer together than the diameter of a full moon — on Tuesday, and they will appear less than 1 degree apart through Thursday evening.

Venus Jupiter conjunction

In this photo of the 2012 conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, as seen from southeastern New York State, the planets were separated by 3 degrees. This week, the planets will be closer than 1 degree through Thursday night.

“This is a great opportunity to observe how planets move in the sky,” said Patrick Hartigan, Rice professor of physics and astronomy. “The planets are in actuality far-separated, with Jupiter on the opposite side of the sun as seen from Earth and Venus on the near side.”

Hartigan, who has written extensively about the conjunction online, said the next comparable evening conjunction between Venus and Jupiter won’t occur until 2023.

“While there is no need for a telescope to see this, we hope to have an impressive view with the smaller telescopes on the observatory terrace, which should show Venus as a fat crescent and Jupiter and its moons within the same field of view,” he said.

Prior to the viewing, Hartigan will answer questions and give a brief lecture at 8 p.m. in 103 Brockman Hall.

The observatory is located on the fourth floor of Brockman Hall. Weather could affect the viewing, and the observatory will not be open if the sky is cloudy. For weather-related updates, visit http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~ruco/open_houses.html.

About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.