Jun 13, 2015
This will be a good event to keep your eye on. You don’t have to stay up late or travel far away from the city to where the sky is dark, but just go outside and look up as the Sun is going down in the evening. I got a good look last night. Last January these two planets, the two brightest planets, were shining on opposite sides of the sky, and since then have been approaching each other, getting closer and closer. Venus and Jupiter will be at their closest on June 30, at just 1/3 degree separation from each other.
Last night was a good time to look, because they’re at a point where if you keep watching after the stars come out, draw a line from Venus to Jupiter, and then go that same distance once more in the same direction, it will point out to you the star Regulus. This is the brightest star of the constellation Leo. You may not have heard of this star – in our North American culture it seems to be the Big Dipper and the North Star that we know best. But Regulus has an important significance. It’s almost right on the path that the planets and Sun and moon travel across the sky day after day and year after year, which is why we now see Venus and Jupiter heading directly toward it. As stated at this skywatchers’ website, it’s “the *only* 1st-magnitude star to sit almost squarely on the ecliptic.” So out of all the thousands of visible stars in the sky, its position and brightness set it apart as unique.