It's almost over for the close encounter between Venus and Jupiter with the two planets moving apart as March progresses. Skywatchers can observe the planets as they move in opposite directions in the sky each night, breaking their conjunction.
Venus is climbing higher and higher in the sky each night and will continue to do so for the coming months. While Venus ascends, the largest planet in the solar system Jupiter is dropping down after the sun in the night sky, appearing lower and lower each night.
As it sinks towards the horizon, Jupiter will soon disappear from view during the evenings by the end of the month. The gas giant will again become visible over Earth again in May, but will this time appear as a pre-dawn object, visible in the early morning sky with its fellow solar system gas giant Saturn.
Jupiter and Venus were at their closest on March 1 when they were separated by just 29.4 arcminutes, or about half a degree, of each other. At an apparent width apart of a tiny fraction of a finger, this meant the two planets captured the imagination of skywatchers as they appeared to "kiss" in the night sky. The spectacle was captured in gorgeous photographs around the world.
Joe Rao previously reported for Space.com that in the 50 years between 1990 and 2040, encounters between Venus and Jupiter will only be tight as it was this month a total of 15 times. Skywatchers will have to wait a while until the two planets are so-close again. Venus and Jupiter will next "kiss" on Feb. 7 2032 when they will come to within 21 arcminutes or around a third of a degree of each other.
Planetary conjunctions occur when solar system planets appear close to each other in the sky over Earth. This is an optical illusion created from our point of view on Earth and it doesn't imply they are actually any more proximate to each other in the solar system.
Planets move much slower through the sky along an imaginary line called the elliptic than the moon, and that means that lunar conjunctions occur roughly once each 29.5-day lunar cycle and are much more common than planetary conjunctions, some of which are exceptionally rare.
Venus and Jupiter meet up roughly once each year, but Jupiter only encounters Saturn, the solar system's second-largest planet, in what is called a "great conjunction" once every 20 years.
The conjunctions between the solar system ice giants Uranus and Neptune are even less common, occurring once 171 years because of the extremely long orbits of the two planets, which take 84 and 165 years to circle the sun, respectively.
Both Jupiter and Venus can console themselves on the break-up of their conjunction with individual dates will the moon later this month. Jupiter will make a close approach to the moon on Wednesday (March 22), then Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system, will meet up with the moon two days later on Friday (March 24).
If you're looking to snap photos of this phenomenon of the night sky in general, check out our guide on how to photograph the moon, as well as our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
Editor's Note: If you snap Venus or Jupiter and would like to share it with Space.com's readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to email@example.com.