In the early morning hours of April 30th, sky gazers and astronomy enthusiasts will be treated to a rare and special planetary spectacle. Planets Venus and Jupiter will appear to 'nearly collide' when observed from the Earth, NASA said on its blog.
Planetary alignments are spectacles of astronomical proportions not just due to their participants but also the rarity of them happening again in our lifetimes. So, when an opportunity arises to witness these giant masses in a special alignment, one must make the little sacrifices like waking up before dawn to witness them.
Where can the 'Near Collision' be spotted?
The alignment will be most visible in the hour before dawn on April 30th. Amateurs or enthusiasts need not be very worried about special equipment needed for viewing this 'conjunction', since the two celestial bodies will appear like one giant glowing mass.
For those interested in viewing them closely, a pair of binoculars would do just fine and with a regular telescope, one would be able to see the two planets at an angular distance of 0.2 degrees. For experts at stargazing, Venus will be at a magnitude of -4. while Jupiter will be at a magnitude of -2.1. As it is a new moon night, the stars will appear brighter in the dark sky and be easier to spot.
Exciting alignments in this year
Just in case, you miss this 'conjunction', there is another opportunity to observe it on May 1st, the very next morning, where the two planets would still appear 'conjoined' but after exchanging their positions. Even at their closest appearance, the two planets will be 430 million miles (690 million km) away from each other and nowhere near the risk of collision.
However, if you are looking forward to a momentous alignment, June 24 is the date you need to mark on your calendars. That's the day, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus are coming together in a grand planetary alignment. However, to spot all these planets, you will need a telescope and don't have any hopes of capturing them and sharing them on social media. The alignment will stretch over a giant expanse of space and be difficult to capture in a frame.