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Jupiter and Venus will appear very close together in the night sky on Wednesday, with the two planets set to pass each other in what’s known as a conjunction.
Jupiter will appear to shift westward, while a bright Venus will seem to move slowly in the other direction, NASA said.
Conjunctions between planets happen frequently because the celestial bodies orbit around the sun in approximately the same plane as one another and trace similar paths across our sky.
NASA said that the two planets would appear in the western sky above the horizon around 6:58 pm ET, as evening twilight ends on the East Coast of the United States.
At their closest, they’re expected to be just half a degree apart — about the diameter of a full moon, said Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society in the United Kingdom.
The best time to spot the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the US will be early evening on Wednesday, but the two planets will continue to appear close together in the night sky on Thursday, he added. The conjunction will be visible to the naked eye.
Conjunctions have no particular astronomical significance, but they are a striking spectacle to view.
After the moon, Jupiter and Venus are currently the brightest objects in the sky, according to Gianluca Masi, an astronomer at the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy and head of the Virtual Telescope Project. He has organized a live feed to watch “the kiss between Venus and Jupiter.”
Here are the rest of 2023’s top sky events, so you can have your binoculars and telescope ready.
The next full moon will occur on Tuesday, March 7, and that evening, Venus, Jupiter and Mars will also be visible in the night sky, NASA said. It’s sometimes known as the crow, crust, sap, sugar or worm moon.
Here are the other remaining full moons for 2023, according to the Farmer’s Almanac:
April 6: Pink moon
May 5: Flower moon
June 3: Strawberry moon
July 3: Buck moon
August 1: Sturgeon moon
August 30: Blue moon
September 29: Harvest moon
October 28: Hunter’s moon
November 27: Beaver moon
December 26: Cold moon
While these are the popularized names associated with the monthly full moon, each one carries its own significance across Native American tribes (with many also referred to by differing names).
There will be two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses in 2023.
A total solar eclipse will occur on April 20, visible to those in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Antarctica. This kind of event occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, blocking out the sun.
And for some sky-watchers in Indonesia, parts of Australia and Papua New Guinea, it will actually be a hybrid solar eclipse. The curvature of Earth’s surface can cause some eclipses to shift between total and annular as the moon’s shadow moves across the globe, according to NASA.
Like a total solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and the Earth during an annular eclipse — but it occurs when the moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth, according to NASA. This causes the moon to appear smaller than the sun, so it doesn’t completely block out our star and creates a glowing ring around the moon.
A Western Hemisphere-sweeping annular solar eclipse will occur on October 14 and be visible across the Americas.
Be sure to wear proper eclipse glasses to safely view solar eclipses, as the sun’s light can be damaging to the eye.
A penumbral lunar eclipse will occur on May 5 for those in Africa, Asia and Australia. This less dramatic version of a lunar eclipse happens when the moon moves through the penumbra, or the faint, outer part of Earth’s shadow.
A partial lunar eclipse of the hunter’s moon on October 28 will be visible to those in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, parts of North America and much of South America. Partial eclipses occur when the sun, Earth and moon don’t completely align, so only part of the moon passes into shadow.
Mark your calendar with the peak dates of meteor showers to watch in 2023:
Lyrids: April 22-23
Eta Aquariids: May 5-6
Southern delta Aquariids: July 30-31
Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
Perseids: August 12-13
Orionids: October 20-21
Southern Taurids: November 4-5
Northern Taurids: November 11-12
Leonids: November 17-18
Geminids: December 13-14
Ursids: December 21-22