Two planets merging is a big deal! it really happens and when it does it can be spectacular! (when I say merge, I don’t mean collide, I mean visibly merge, one passes in front of the other! As they do this they become much brighter for a while!
This is what NASA has the say about it:
Jupiter and Venus will merge into a dazzling ”super-star” in the Western horizon by the end of June, NASA says.
The conjunction of the two planets has been building during the month of June and will culminate in a spectacular display on June 30. “Every night in June, the separation between Venus and Jupiter will visibly shrink,” says NASA.
A conjunction is when two or more objects appear very close together on the sky.
On the evening of June 30, Venus and Jupiter will appear in the sky just a third of a degree apart. “That’s less than the diameter of a full Moon. You’ll be able to hide the pair not just behind the palm of your outstretched hand, but behind your little pinky finger,” NASA enthuses.
Sky & Telescope say theat they think this was the same type of event was called the ”Star of Bethlehem” in 3-2 BC. and say:
“Both planets will crowd into same telescopic field of view, Venus appearing as a fat crescent and round Jupiter accompanied by its four large moons. The two planets will appear nearly as the same size, but Jupiter, though much larger in reality, is much farther away…. Their globes will contrast dramatically in brightness, with Venus’s crescent appearing dazzling white compared to Jupiter’s duller, striped cloud deck.”
Pat Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University, says
“The conjunction on June 30 is the best one we will have for over a decade, rivaled only by one on March 1, 2023, which will not be not quite as close.”
Look to the west-northwest as soon as it gets dark, says Dr. Hartigan. ”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.”
Is this a significant? Not really.
”These planetary groupings in the sky have no effect on Earth or human affairs – except for one,”
says Alan MacRobert at Sky & Telescope.
”They can lift our attention away from our own little world into the enormous things beyond. That’s what amateur astronomers do all the time.”