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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Stuart Clark

Starwatch: search the skies for Venus and Jupiter in conjunction

We will end the month as we started it: with a tricky planetary conjunction. Although challenging, it will be a beauty if you can find somewhere with a low enough eastern horizon. The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, will draw exquisitely close.

The chart shows the view looking east from Southampton on 30 April at 0530 BST. All week you will be able to see the planets drawing closer together, and then next week you will see them drifting back away from one another.

To stack the odds in your favour, find the highest vantage point you can with a clear eastern horizon and begin looking at about 0500 BST. From the south coast of the UK it will be a race to see the planets after they rise above the horizon but before the growing dawn washes their light from the sky. From London, it will be almost impossible. The farther west you are, the closer the planets will appear to be.

And if you are in the southern hemisphere then the conjunction happens in a fully dark sky. For example, observers in Sydney, Australia, get a terrific view. The pair of planets rise in the east at about 0330 AEST on 1 May.

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