Just after sunset, as the evening sky fades to blue, Venus and Jupiter emerge from the twilight arrestingly close together in the western sky. Martin McKenna photographed the pair last night above the moonlit ruins of Downhill Estate in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland:
“Venus and Jupiter looked so beautiful,” says McKenna, “They were simply stunning!!”
The two bright planets are converging for a 3o close encounter on March 12-13 that NASA says could be physiologically mesmerizing. They are so bright, you can see them through city lights and even thin clouds.
Done looking? Turn around. Another planet, almost as bright and more beautifully colored can be found rising in the east. Mars is putting on a show of its own opposite Venus and Jupiter. The Red Planet is at its closest to Earth for all of 2012 on March 5th. It appears at sunset and soars overhead at midnight–an easy target for the naked eye and backyard telescopes alike. [sky map]