The Planets Blaze Forth
If you are an early riser Monday morning or perhaps driving to work at the break of day, you may wonder what those two bright “stars” are in the eastern sky.
First of all, they aren’t stars. They are the planets Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets that grace the skies of planet Earth.
Second of all, as you view these two blazing planets, you will notice a dimly red planet, just below them, that is dwarfed by the other two. This is Mars.
What you are viewing is a conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter as Mars keeps them company. They will be at the height of conjunction, early Monday morning with best viewing just before dawn.
Venus is the brightest of the three orbs and according to Sky and Telescope magazine, the reason for this is that Venus is the closest to Earth and also to the Sun. It is shrouded in highly reflective white clouds making a dazzling display on a clear evening. Mars is so dim because it is much smaller and covered with reddish soil, much like Arizona, giving it an orange tint.
If you are a sky watching enthusiast, or just like seeing really cool things, this is an event which is worth an early morning wake-up call.