Mars and Jupiter conjunction
If you’re an early riser, you have probably noticed the reddish planet Mars inching closer to bright Jupiter in the sky before dawn. The two planets are neighboring worlds in our solar system, though they are currently separated by about 350 million miles (560 million km) and an asteroid belt. Yet, on the dome of our sky, they’ll appear about the width of a full moon apart on May 29.
On May 24 and 25, the waning crescent moon passes below the pair of planets. In the Northern Hemisphere, Mars is directly to the right of Jupiter as the conjunction nears. On the morning of their closest approach, May 29, Mars slips just below the solar system’s largest planet. After May 30, Mars slides farther and farther to the left of Jupiter.
While you’re checking out the conjunction, do not miss spotting Saturn above the duo and bright Venus down by the horizon. In June, Mercury will join these planets for an amazing lineup.
The view from the Southern Hemisphere
For those observing from the Southern Hemisphere, the ecliptic, or path of the planets, cuts sharply down toward the horizon. This more vertical alignment means that Mars will approach Jupiter from almost directly above. Around May 29, Mars slips just to the right of Jupiter and on May 30 the two are side by side. Following this date, Mars will continue in a beeline down toward the horizon.
Bottom line: You can view the Mars and Jupiter conjunction before sunrise on the morning of May 29. The two planets will appear about a full moon’s width apart, though in reality they are millions of miles apart.