Jupiter and Venus put on stunning show for morning skygazers

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  • Planets were visible to the naked eye in parts of the UK this morning
  • The best viewing time was 40 minutes before sunrise at 07:15 GMT
  • Pictures show them 16 arcminutes – or half the width of the full moon – apart
  • The two will visibly pass this close again only once during the next 100 years

Harry Pettit For Mailonline

The two brightest planets in the solar system put on a dazzling display today for early-morning stargazers.

Venus and Jupiter were visible to the naked eye as they rose just above the horizon at around 6:00am GMT (01:00am ET) in a rare ‘conjunction’. 

Neither planet has risen for observers in the US yet, with the display scheduled for 10:30am GMT (5:30am ET) for East coast skygazers. 

Pictures of the two planets, which will visibly pass this close again only once during the next 100 years, have been shared online as Brits woke up to the amazing sight.

Scroll down for video 

The two brightest planets in the solar system put on a dazzling display today for early-morning stargazers in the UK 

CONJUNCTIONS 

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparently meet or pass, as observable from Earth. 

The conjunction is made possible when Venus and Jupiter share the same east to west longitude in the sky. 

They are around 416 million miles apart, but for a brief period it will appear as if the two planets are orbiting the sun side by side.

Images show the two planets 16 arcminutes – or half the width of the full moon – apart during the rare conjunction.

Nasa has said this pairing makes the two planets look ‘like a brilliant double star’.

Twitter user @SamChester wrote: ‘Clear sky just before dawn, Venus and Jupiter look amazing on the horizon.’

User @jakehewkin tweeted: ‘Wow! The view over London of Jupiter and Venus rising is incredible! They will be in alignment soon. Stick your head outside! (wherever you are)’.

Images show the two planets 16 arcminutes – or half the width of the full moon – apart during the rare conjunction.

Nasa has said this pairing makes the two planets look ‘like a brilliant double star’.

Conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter take place around once every 13 months.

But today’s meeting was rare because the two planets approached unusually close to one another.

Joe Rao, a skygazing expert and lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium, told Space.com: ‘Using a computer program, I’ve found that over the next 100 years, up until the year 2117, Venus and Jupiter will come within 21 arc minutes or less of each other just 24 times.

‘In fact, most of these events will occur during the daytime; only two will occur during twilight or in a dark sky. 

Pictures of the two planets, which will visibly pass this close again only once during the next 100 years, have been shared online as Brits woke up to the amazing sight

Pictures of the two planets, which will visibly pass this close again only once during the next 100 years, have been shared online as Brits woke up to the amazing sight

Pictures of the two planets, which will visibly pass this close again only once during the next 100 years, have been shared online as Brits woke up to the amazing sight

Venus and Jupiter were visible to the naked eye as they rose just above the horizon at around 6:00am GMT (01:00am ET) in a rare ‘conjunction’ 

Neither planet has risen for observers in the US yet, with the display scheduled for 10:30am GMT (5:30am ET) for East coast skygazers. Pictured is the two planets as they were visible in the UK this morning 

Experts had predicted the planets would be so close together before sunrise at 7:15am GMT (2:15am ET) they would appear to be on top of one another 

‘Monday’s event is one of them, and the other is 22 years from now, on Nov. 2, 2039.’

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparently meet or pass, as observable from Earth.

Conjunctions of planets with one another are considered of great importance in astrology. 

Experts had predicted the planets would be so close together before sunrise at 7:15am GMT (2:15am ET) they would appear to be on top of one another.

But the rare sight faded quickly as the sky got brighter this morning. 

Twitter user Ian Burley was one of many Brits to snap a picture of the phenomenon early this morning

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparently meet or pass, as observable from Earth

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparently meet or pass, as observable from Earth

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparently meet or pass, as observable from Earth

Images show the two planets 16 arcminutes – or half the width of the full moon – apart during the rare conjunction

As well as the two planets being visible without any specialist equipment, Jupiter’s four Galilean moons were visible with a telescope. 

Experts warned the sun would rise quickly after the planets became visible, meaning skygazers needed to be careful to avoid damaging their eyes.

Ahead of the rare sight, Ade Ashford from Astronomy Now said: ‘If you do manage to catch Venus and Jupiter together at the start of UK civil twilight, the pair will be just 6° above the east-southeast horizon.

‘Seeing conditions are therefore likely to be poor, but telescope users may just catch sight of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto in the configuration depicted at the top of the page.’

Conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter take place around once every 13 months. But today's meeting was rare because the two planets approached unusually close to one another

Conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter take place around once every 13 months. But today's meeting was rare because the two planets approached unusually close to one another

Conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter take place around once every 13 months. But today’s meeting was rare because the two planets approached unusually close to one another

Over the next 100 years, up until the year 2117, Venus and Jupiter will come within 21 arc minutes or less of each other just 24 times. Most of these will not be visible as they will occur during the day

Over the next 100 years, up until the year 2117, Venus and Jupiter will come within 21 arc minutes or less of each other just 24 times. Most of these will not be visible as they will occur during the day

Over the next 100 years, up until the year 2117, Venus and Jupiter will come within 21 arc minutes or less of each other just 24 times. Most of these will not be visible as they will occur during the day

Experts had predicted the planets would be so close together before sunrise at 7:15am GMT (2:15am ET) they would appear to be on top of one another

Experts had predicted the planets would be so close together before sunrise at 7:15am GMT (2:15am ET) they would appear to be on top of one another

Experts had predicted the planets would be so close together before sunrise at 7:15am GMT (2:15am ET) they would appear to be on top of one another

For skygazers on the US East coast, the display is scheduled for 10:30am GMT (5:30am ET) this morning

For skygazers on the US East coast, the display is scheduled for 10:30am GMT (5:30am ET) this morning

For skygazers on the US East coast, the display is scheduled for 10:30am GMT (5:30am ET) this morning

The rare sight (pictured) faded quickly as the sky got brighter this morning, with only early-morning skygazers managing to catch a glimpse

Experts warned the sun would rise quickly after the planets became visible, meaning skygazers needed to be careful to avoid damaging their eyes

Experts warned the sun would rise quickly after the planets became visible, meaning skygazers needed to be careful to avoid damaging their eyes

Experts warned the sun would rise quickly after the planets became visible, meaning skygazers needed to be careful to avoid damaging their eyes

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparent meet or pass, as observable from Earth. Nasa has said this pairing makes the two planets look 'like a brilliant double star'

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparent meet or pass, as observable from Earth. Nasa has said this pairing makes the two planets look 'like a brilliant double star'

Conjunctions occur when two celestial bodies apparent meet or pass, as observable from Earth. Nasa has said this pairing makes the two planets look ‘like a brilliant double star’

Conjunctions of planets with one another are considered of great importance in astrology

Conjunctions of planets with one another are considered of great importance in astrology

Conjunctions of planets with one another are considered of great importance in astrology