‘Glorious Threesome’: Venus and Jupiter Dance With the Moon in June [Video]

iStockphoto/David M. Schrader - The crescent moon will be joined by Venus and Jupiter in a 'glorious threesome' in June.

‘Glorious Threesome’: Venus and Jupiter Dance With the Moon in June [Video]

Over the next few evenings, as a delicate crescent emerges from the new moon, Venus and Jupiter will hover nearby for a spectacular sky show two nights running.

Against the magenta-periwinkle twilight glow of pre-solstice sunsets, Mother Earth’s sister planet Venus is edging closer and closer to Jupiter, lord of the skies. And before they converge spectacularly at the end of this month—more on that later—they will form, on two nights running, an close-knit triangle with that sliver of moon.

“If you love stargazing, there’s a date you need to mark on your calendar,” says NASA. “It’s June. That’s right, the whole month!”

All one has to do is step outside at sundown and look west, NASA says, for a show that changes daily.

“You don’t have to wait until the sky fades to black,” NASA says. “Venus and Jupiter are so bright, you can see then shining through the twilight. In fact, some people say the planets are especially beautiful when they are surrounded by the cobalt hue of the early evening sky—so don’t wait.”

As June unfolds, Venus and Jupiter are moving closer and closer together, destined to merge. But the dance leading up to the main event is just as captivating.

“Every night in June, the separation between Venus and Jupiter will visibly shrink,” NASA says. “On June 19th, something exciting happens: the crescent Moon joins the show. On that evening, the Moon, Venus and Jupiter will form a bright isosceles triangle in the sunset sky. Isosceles means that two sides of the triangle are the same length.”

Not only that, but it also happens again—with the three players shifting position.

“One night later, on June 20th, the vertices rearrange themselves, forming yet another isosceles triangle,” NASA says. “Never has a geometry lesson been so beautiful.”

It’s important not to wait till nightfall.

“Be sure to catch the glorious threesome at dusk/nightfall because they’ll all follow the sun beneath the horizon by early-to-mid evening,” Earthsky.org cautions. “On the evening of June 19, the waxing crescent moon sets first, followed by Venus and then Jupiter.”

Geometry aside, there is the matter of light. The day after this otherworldly triangular apparition is the summer solstice on June 21. And throughout June, Venus is especially glorious. It will be impossible to miss, a luminescent diamond hanging over the horizon as the sun disappears.

“That stunning jewel is Venus, and it’s currently having its best showing for northern observers of 2015 as it shines brightest and appears highest in the evening sky,” Astronomy.com says.

See NASA’s overview of the June dance between the sky’s three brightest heavenly bodies.

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