Look Out For A "Double Star" Tonight

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Tonight might be the best time to escape the city for some stargazing: On the evening of June 30, Jupiter and Venus will form a "double star" in the sky, as they appear so close together — one-third of a degree apart — they will look like one giant star.

Of course, the two planets won't be next to each other, they'll be some 416 million miles apart. This isn't the first or last time such a phenomenon will happen. Venus and Jupiter met last August, and will meet again in October.

According to astronomer Dr. Patrick Hartigan, the Venus-Jupiter conjunction is particularly renowned because they are the two brightest planets in the sky (although Mars comes in close). Venus is particularly bright thanks to the reflective white clouds that surround it and the planet's proximity to Earth, National Geographic reports. The double star is so bright, in fact, that many people believe the Venus-Jupiter conjunction to be the answer to the Star of Bethlehem legend.

The best time to see the double star will be tonight, right at dusk. "Look to the west-northwest as soon as it gets dark," Hartigan writes. "After about two hours, for most latitudes, the objects will become difficult to observe as they begin to set. They are bright. You might mistake them for airplanes."

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