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Mars and Venus will be visible in the night sky on Monday and Tuesday about a finger's width apart. Here's how to watch it.

 



Mars and Venus will align in the sky on Monday and Tuesday, appearing almost to touch.

Planets move in alignments like this, called conjunctions, quite often. The pair last tied the knot in 2019.

This combination will be easily visible. Here are the best ways to see it.

Mars and Venus are about to line up in the night sky, coming so close on Monday and Tuesday that they will almost seem to be touching.


A celestial phenomenon in which the celestial bodies are so aligned in the sky is called conjunction.


Mars and Venus have been crawling close to each other throughout the month. After sunset on Monday night, the two planets will appear so close together that a full moon could not fit in between. According to NASA, if you hold your hand up to the sky, it's just the width of a finger.


The two planets will actually get closest together in the early hours of Tuesday morning, but daylight will be impossible to see. So instead, people will have to wait until the sun sets on Tuesday so that the two planets can be seen together again. After that, the pair will begin to drift apart.


To see conjunction, go out immediately after sunset and look west

To catch a glimpse of the combination, head out around twilight - 45 minutes to an hour after sunset. Both planets will be visible to the naked eye once the Sun sinks below the horizon.



Look towards the lowest part of the western sky, close to the horizon, under the crescent moon. You can get a better view if you have binoculars or binoculars. (Websites like Stellarium can help you orient a telescope in the right direction.)


If you are on the East Coast, get out before 10:07 pm. Local time, NASA says, is because after that, Mars will begin to set below the horizon, followed by Venus. (Venus sets about two hours after sunset.)


**Mars and Venus are actually 74.4 million miles apart, which is roughly the distance between Earth and the Sun.


The two planets would be easy to distinguish from each other in the sky because Venus is about 190 times brighter than Mars, which also appears reddish-brown.


Fortunately, on Monday and Tuesday the Moon will be only 10% illuminated by the Sun, making the alignment easy to see in clear skies.


This pair of planets will not appear so close again until 2034

Planetary conjunctions are not uncommon. Last year, Jupiter and Saturn aligned in a "great conjunction," appearing so close in the sky that they formed what looked like a double planet. Before that, those two planets had not appeared so close to Earth's vantage point since March 4, 1226, some 800 years ago.


According to Astronomy.com, the last time Mars and Venus were near Earth's vantage point was on August 24, 2019. But that conjunction was not visible because both were too close to the Sun.


If you miss the upcoming coincidence, you may see another Mars-Venus alignment on February 22, 2024. However, on that day, the two planets will not appear as close together as they will be on Monday and Tuesday. To see another such combination, Astronomy.com reports, you'll have to wait until May 11, 2034.

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