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Two planets will appear to 'kiss' in the sky tonight

Jupiter, Moon and planet Venus observed near Salgotarjan, Hungary - 22 Feb 2023
Posted at 8:07 PM, Mar 01, 2023

(CNN) -- Jupiter and Venus will appear very close together in the night sky on Wednesday, with the two planets set to pass each other in what's known as a conjunction.

Jupiter will appear to shift westward, while a bright Venus will seem to move slowly in the other direction,NASA said.

Conjunctions between planets happen frequently because the celestial bodies orbit around the sun in approximately the same plane as one another and trace similar paths across our sky.

NASA said that the two planets would appear in the western sky above the horizon around 6:58 pm ET, as evening twilight ends on the East Coast of the United States.

At their closest, they're expected to be just half a degree apart — about the diameter of a full moon, said Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society in the United Kingdom.

The best time to spot the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the US will be early evening on Wednesday, but the two planets will continue to appear close together in the night sky on Thursday, he added. The conjunction will be visible to the naked eye.

Conjunctions have no particular astronomical significance, but they are a striking spectacle to view.

After the moon, Jupiter and Venus are currently the brightest objects in the sky, according to Gianluca Masi, an astronomer at the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy and head of the Virtual Telescope Project. He has organized a live feedto watch "the kiss between Venus and Jupiter."