The two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter, have been drawing closer and closer to each other as seen from Earth for the past several days. This weekend they will be joined by the hard-to-see innermost planet Mercury for a rare triple planetary conjunction. The three planets will form a triangle, with each roughly two degrees from the other. Your pinky finger held at arm’s length is about one degree wide. Here is what they will look like about thirty minutes after sunset on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights (May 25, 26 and 27, 2013).
In each image, the large blue dot is Venus (the brightest of the three), the large yellow dot is Jupiter (next brightest) and the smaller pink dot is Mercury.
Venus and Mercury are closer to the sun that is the Earth, and Jupiter is much farther away. The apparent proximity of these planets is a matter of perspective, of course. Here is a view from above the solar system that shows their positions relative to the Earth. You can see how they will appear close to each other in our sky even when they are millions of miles apart.
Mercury and Venus will continue to climb in the sky in the days to come while Jupiter sinks into the sun’s glare, so enjoy this while you can!