A Close Conjunction of Venus and Mars Will Be Visible in Australia Tonight
The two planets will appear a mere finger's width apart.
In an emotional sense, things aren't really looking up in Australia at the moment. 2020's horror show has continued into 2021, thanks to new outbreaks and lockdowns, because the chaos of the pandemic hasn't passed just yet. But, for one night, it's worth literally looking up with your eyes and your noggin — because a conjunction of Venus and Mars is about to happen way above our heads.
Peer skywards tonight, on Tuesday, July 13, and you'll see the two planets in close proximity. How close? According to NASA, they'll appear a mere finger's width apart. They won't actually physically be that close, of course, but they'll sure look like it.
If you're not familiar with the term 'conjunction' within the field of astronomy, it refers to two objects or spacecraft sharing the same right ascension or ecliptic longitude — so they're at the same angular distance in one way or another. Specifically, it's used to describe the moment that two objects are at their closest apparent point together in the sky. You might remember the term from last year, because Jupiter and Saturn went through the same thing in December.
For this conjunction, you'll want to find a spot where you can peer in a northwestern direction. That's where you need to look — but if you're wondering when you should take a peek outside this evening, The Conversation advises looking up between 6.30–7.30pm. You'll be able to see Venus before then, from dusk, but Mars will only be visible once it gets dark. In Australia, you'll spy Mars slightly above its neighbour, and to the left.
Venus isn't hard to spot; it has been called "the evening star", after all. To get a glimpse of the red planet, you'll need to peer a little harder, as it is nowhere near as bright.
To get the best view, you'll want an unobstructed vantage of the sky — and, to look even closer, to use binoculars or a telescope. If you do choose some optical help, you'll be able to see both Venus and Mars in the same field of view.
2021 has already delivered a few sky shows, via pink, blood and strawberry moons, so this is just the latest astronomical gift this year. But, at a time that hasn't been big on good news, it's definitely worth looking up for.
The Venus and Mars conjunction will be visible in the evening of Tuesday, July 13. For further details, head to the NASA website.
Published on July 13, 2021 by Sarah Ward