The new week will present a breath-taking stargazing opportunity. Starting July 12, Venus and Mars will appear incredibly close to each other in an astronomical event called a conjunction. A crescent moon will also appear above the pair in the western sky, and this celestial trio can be viewed for around an hour after sunset.
If clouds happen to obscure the view on July 12 (Monday), stargazers can step outside on July 13 (Tuesday) for yet another viewing opportunity. However, the crescent moon will not be as close to the planets on Tuesday.
Venus, however, will continue to glow brightly in the night sky for the remainder of this month and the next month but will move farther apart from Mars every night. The sight will be visible even in large cities where light pollution usually obstructs a clear view of the evening sky. Venus, which is nicknamed the “evening star” despite being a planet, is the third brightest natural object, after the sun and moon, in the sky, which makes it easy to spot at night time.
Apart from the Venus-Mars conjunction, stargazers staying up at night can enjoy celestial views of another pair of planets – Saturn and Jupiter – that will glow brighter in the coming few weeks. The planetary duo is, at present, rising in the southeastern sky at around 11 pm local time, but they are slightly farther apart compared to Venus and Mars.
This is quite similar to how the two planets appeared last summer with Jupiter to the right of Saturn. This time, however, the roles have flipped, and Saturn is to the right of Jupiter. The best part is that the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction can be spotted with the unaided eye.