A Rare Meeting Of Venus And The Pleiades
Don’t miss a rare conjunction of Venus and the Pleiades star cluster this week. It occurs only once every eight years. Here’s how and when to see this incredible sight.
Why is this Venus-Pleiades conjunction unique?
If you look at the night sky on April 2, 3, and 4, 2020, you will easily notice the dazzling planet Venus shining near the Pleiades star cluster, which is also known as the Seven Sisters, Messier 45, M45. Our “sister planet” passes close to that cluster every year, but on April 3 this year skywatchers will have a chance to see a rare super-close Venus-Pleiades conjunction that occurs only once every eight years.
Due to the orbital periods of Earth and Venus, these conjunctions take place in cycles of eight years, every other leap year in early April. The last time this event occurred was on April 3, 2012, and it will happen again only on April 3, 2028. Besides, Venus is now at its near-maximum elongation from the Sun (46 degrees east) which means excellent viewing conditions in the night sky. That is why this year we will witness a unique meeting of Venus and the Pleiades.
How and when to see Venus and the Pleiades in the night sky?
The planet Venus becomes visible in the evening sky as dusk fades, but you will need dark skies to see the Pleiades with no optical aid. Use the stargazing app Star Walk 2 to determine the optimal viewing time and to locate objects in the sky above your location quickly and easily. In the night sky on Friday, April 3, 2020, find Venus gleaming within the Pleiades star cluster above the western horizon. The Pleiades are less bright than Venus, but the planet’s glow will make the cluster look magnificent.
At maximum approach, Venus and the Pleiades will pass within 0°15' of each other. The planet will invade the cluster and sit below Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades. This incredible celestial sight will be visible to the naked eye no matter where you live worldwide and will offer a great opportunity to take a stunning photo. Keep your cameras ready!
Did you know?
The Pleiades is one of the brightest and most beautiful open star clusters in the entire night sky. Stargazers can see from six to twelve cluster's stars with the naked eye if the sky is dark and clear. Five main stars of the cluster form a tiny misty dipper in the sky. If you want to get a closer look at the Pleiades, it’s better to use binoculars rather than telescopes. Binoculars have a larger field of view which makes it possible to see the whole cluster at once.
Clear skies and happy stargazing!