For those who have a fascination with either Venus or Saturn, you will have a treat when both are seen together On November 27, 2012. Star gazers will want to pay particular attention on this day as Venus and Saturn appear to almost touch in the nighttime sky. Known as a conjunction, this means that the two planets will be within one degree of each other. This event is also known as an appulse. This conjunction will occur at 05:14:02 UTC (Universal Coordinated Time).
Conjunctions can either be classified as a superior conjunction or an inferior conjunction. As viewed from the sun, a superior conjunction means that a planet passes behind the sun. An inferior conjunction however, means that the two planets line up with the sun on the same line.
When witnessing a conjunction of Venus and Saturn, the two bright planets will have the same right ascension to one another, or as it is also known, the same hour angle. When the conjunction occurs, Venus will be 34 degrees south of Saturn and Saturn’s elongation to the sun will be 29 degrees West.
Since such an occurrence is not very common, it is advised that anyone interested in viewing such a spectacular event take advantage of it.
When You Can Expect To See It
Although it can appear at anytime after midnight, the best time to witness this spectacle is right before sunrise. However, you will want to start looking an hour or so before then in the event that cloud cover precedes sunrise.
The Best Way To See It
As with any astronomical observation, you will have the best chances of a sighting if you stay as far away from artificial lighting (most commonly city lights) as possible. The event will take place in the East.
Seeing Venus, the hottest of all planets, coming in such close contact with the ringed-wonder of Saturn, will be a rare sight to behold, even for the novice astronomer. Since the surface of Venus is hot enough to melt lead, it will undoubtedly be the brighter of the two planets. Although it attains a much higher temperature than Saturn, it’s atmosphere of sulfuric acid will still only allow Venus to appear as a blur.
Those who have access to high-powered binoculars or a good telescope will be in for a treat.