Photos of Venus and Jupiter Dancing in the Moonlight

The brightest stars – well, planets – in the sky over the past month have been Jupiter and Venus as they’ve danced closer together. Last night – 30 June 2015 – they were at their closest, separated by just a fraction of a degree…as can be seen in the picture below, taken at Blouberg Beachfront in the Western Cape of South Africa last night.

Blouberg Beach Front, with the alignment of Venus and Jupiter visible in the sky
Ina Engelbrecht – “Twilight time, earlier tonight on Blouberg Beach Front, with the alignment of Venus and Jupiter visible in the sky 😍👌”

Officially the planets’ conjunction occurred at 6:02 am (South African time) this morning.

Below is a selection of some of the photos South Africans around the world have taken of Jupiter and Venus in the lead-up to this ultimate conjunction.

Durban sky. Photo by Quraisha Dawood.
Durban sky. Photo: Quraisha Dawood.

A ‘conjunction’ occurs when two celestial bodies (be it planets, the moon and/or stars) appear to be extremely close to each other.


Photos: Quraisha Que Yacoob - Effingham, Durban; Hayley Muller - Sunninghill, Johannesburg; and Marianne Campbell Chichester - West Sussex, England.
Photos: Quraisha Que Yacoob – Effingham, Durban; Hayley Muller – Sunninghill, Johannesburg; and Marianne Campbell Chichester – West Sussex, England.

It’s not that rare although it is rare between Jupiter and Venus, occurring only once every five to ten years. (Some say the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ was a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, and that this is the first time in 2,000 years that the conjunction has been as bright and as close.)

Doha, Qatar on June 19. Photo: Rina Holtzhausen
Doha, Qatar on June 19. Photo: Rina Holtzhausen
The Love Triangle - the moon, Jupiter and Venus. 20 June 2015.
The Love Triangle – the moon, Jupiter and Venus. 20 June 2015. Photos: Freda Du Toit Cloete – Elandsbaai, West Coast, South Africa; Margie Strang – Ventura, California and Gina Carrick – “Here it is in Abu Dhabi, just wish I could have turned the street lights off!”

During last night’s phenomenon the two planets – representing love and luck – were so close they mimicked a double star. Some call it a Super Star.

In reality the two planets were separated by approximately 800 million kilometres. Venus was 46-million miles away from Earth, while Jupiter was about 12 times further away, at about 560-million miles away.

Dubai, June 19. Photos: Bruce Hinds
Dubai, June 19. Photos: Bruce Hinds
Strand, June 20. Photo: Marinda Grobler
Strand, June 20. Photo: Marinda Grobler

On 20 June 2015, the crescent moon was also close to the interstellar pair, resulting in a brilliant “love triangle” in the sky. Last night however the moon was on the other side of the sky.

Milan, Italy. Photo: Paulette Nondumiso Molao
Milan, Italy. Photo: Paulette Nondumiso Molao
Photos: Nozipho Twala - Pinetown; Diane Chow - Joburg; Dawn De Villiers - Big Bay, Caoe Town
Photos: Nozipho Twala – Pinetown; Diane Chow – Joburg; Dawn De Villiers – Big Bay, Caoe Town

The next few nights will still make spectacular viewing – tonight they will bask in full moon light – as the two planets move away from each other since Venus, the planet closest to the sun, orbits the sun far quicker than gas giant Jupiter.

Abu Dhabi. Photo: Arlene Dane Cameron
Abu Dhabi. Photo: Arlene Dane Cameron

To see the dazzling planets for yourself – look out for the first two ‘stars’ to appear in the evening sky. The cloud-covered Venus is the brighter one.

And don’t forget that full moon tonight…

Quraisha Que Yacoob‎ - "Full Moon Captured low over Reservoir Hills, Durban...this morning in Parlock at 05:00."
Quraisha Que Yacoob‎ – “Full Moon Captured low over Reservoir Hills, Durban…this morning in Parlock at 05:00.”

Watch Video – NASA’s Bill Cooke Talks Planetary Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter