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Make it easy Mars and Venus Are About to Make Out, Guys

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Photo: AstroStar (Shutterstock)

The cosmos is in constant motion, and during the month of July, the movements of celestial bodies are an especially welcome treat for those on the ground. The two planets situated on either side of Earth—Mars and Venus—are poised to drift within a relatively close distance of each other, at least in the grand scheme of space.

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This planetary conjunction, or “kiss” as it’s colloquially called, will begin in the small hours of Monday morning and continue on through Tuesday. Though it starts early, you won’t have to stay up in the wee hours to catch a glimpse.

What is a conjunction?

It’s simple, really: A conjunction is the passing of two or more celestial bodies. Last month, the moon and Mars aligned in a superior conjunction, which occurs when objects traverse an orbit behind the sun, sometimes rendering them visible to onlookers on the ground. Inferior conjunctions are less exciting, as they involve objects drifting in front of the Sun, which obscures their visibility.

It’s called a “kiss” because it’s a fleeting moment of symmetry. According to the BBC’s Sky at Night, next week’s conjunction is pretty standard fare stargazing:

The most commonly observed conjunctions involve the Moon, often as a crescent in the evening or morning sky, along with any of the bright planets – Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter or Saturn.

Technically, for a true conjunction to occur, two or more celestial bodies need to maintain the same right ascension, or “ecliptic longitude in the sky,” as Sky at Night notes. Not all conjunctions fit the bill in the purest terms, and the one occurring on Monday might be something you call a “conjunction light,” as the moon and Mars won’t technically have the same right ascension, which is the same coordinates measured from east-to-west.

Either way, it should make for some good viewing, especially if you have powerful binoculars or a telescope at the ready.

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How to see the conjunction of Mars and Venus

The planets will meet at around 2 a.m., Eastern on Monday, July 12. But as Astronomy explains, their closest link-up won’t be until six hours later on Monday morning, when the planets will be “separated by less than the diameter of a Full Moon.”

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The United States doesn’t have the best vantage point in the world when it comes to taking in the view. The evenings of the July 12 and 13 will offer the same proximity between the two planets—about 33 degrees of separation—visible in the U.S., which is the best our geography can afford us.

Astronomy explains when to see the conjunction and where, specifically, to look on Tuesday evening:

On July 13th, the pair will become visible about 45 minutes after sunset, local time, low in the west. The two planets will initially stand 16° above the western horizon and then sink below it 1 hour and 42 minutes after the Sun.

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Mars will appear a bit fainter than Venus, so you might “have to let twilight fade some for you to be able to spot the Red Planet,” the publication notes. Your best chance of seeing the planets with any degree of vividness will come with binoculars or a telescope, and a few handy stargazing apps might help your planetary pursuits as well.

 

 

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Source link: lifehacker.com

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