Watch Venus Approach Jupiter: The Year's Best Stargazing! | Almanac.com

Watch Venus Approach Jupiter: The Year's Best Stargazing!


Venus, Jupiter, and the Crescent Moon

Photo Credit

Romance of the Evening Star

Print Friendly and PDF

The best stargazing of 2023 happens in the next two weeks of February! And it’s romantic, too, as if kicked off by Valentine’s Day. Watch the “Evening Star” Venus approach Jupiter for a magnificent conjunction that’s easy to see on your own (or with a special someone).

From 6 to 7 PM each evening, all this week and next, the western sky forms a striking backdrop like a museum tapestry. It’s stone simple to find on your own, but your pleasure may be enhanced by bringing along someone who loves nature: your child, your partner, maybe even your grandmother. Take them to a place with an unobstructed western view, and gaze toward where the Sun has just set.

That’s it. There’s no other requirement. No telescope, binoculars, or star chart. You’ve now joined the ancient Greeks and Mayans and Egyptians. But starting next week you might also bring along this page. 

  1. The first thing that stands out is the brightest “star” in the sky which we call the Evening Star. This is the beautiful planet Venus. It’s lowish in the direction the sun set but not so low that it’s easily blocked. 
  2. Directly above it is the night’s second brightest star, the planet Jupiter. These two planets outshine everything else. They’re slowly inching closer and closer together in preparation for a mind-blowing series of conjunctions. That’ll happen soon enough, but right now we’re first establishing the background, the stage setting so that the fast-paced action will happen in a familiar setting.

See the planet rise and set times for your location.

The Crescent Moon Joins Venus and Jupiter

You might want to go ahead and put the critical dates in your appointment book or smartphone. 

  • Tuesday, February 21: the Crescent Moon will dramatically hang beneath dazzling Venus with Jupiter above them both. 
  • Then, on the next evening, Wednesday the 22nd, the Crescent Moon closely meets Jupiter with Venus beneath them. It’s the three brightest nighttime objects all together. 

  • Move ahead one more night to Thursday the 23rd and now the Crescent Moon hovers at the top of a vertical line with Jupiter below it and Venus below Jupiter. 
  • On Monday the 27th, the Crescent Moon closely meets orange Mars a bit higher in that same region, the western sky in the fading light of dusk.
  • Also add to your calendar that at that same time, between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, the planets Venus and Jupiter closely and spectacularly come together on Wednesday, March 1

All the night’s brightest objects playing catch up and tag. They’re also the closest celestial bodies to earth in all the universe. The action seems tailor made for nature lovers, children of various ages, and romantics happy to fill in Valentine’s lingering glow.

In this age of urban activity, when more people live in cities than in rural towns or farms, you’ve taken a retrogressive step. And while all these Evening Star antics are bright enough to be well seen even from cities, the most dramatic celestial punch goes to those who have momentarily escaped the unnatural yellow glow of big city streetlights. No matter. Everyone now has the chance to be mesmerized by the dazzle of the ancient evening star—which on successive evenings reveals its own life and animation.

See the Night Sky Guide for February 2023.