The moon, Jupiter and Venus are going to be showing off for us on the 16th of May 2020, by aligning in a rare position that will form a smiley face in the sky!
This rare spectacle is called conjunction and is not to be missed, as the last time this happened was 12 years ago in 2008, so not a regular occurrence. In 2007 this also happened in the Philippines when the sky lit up at night.
An explanation by Space.com of alignment, or occultation is it “happens when one object passes in front of another from an observer’s perspective. A simple example is a solar eclipse. From a certain area on Earth, the Moon passes in front of the sun and either partially or totally blocks the light. So, we can say that the sun is eclipsed or occulted.”
Venus passed in front of Jupiter in 1818 and more than likely this occultation will happen again in 2065.
Even thought this occurrence that will take place in May might seem to be an occultation, it is actually a conjunction, RMG explains, “In astronomy, a conjunction occurs when any two astronomical objects (such as asteroids, Moons, planets, and stars) appear to be close together in the sky, as observed from Earth.”
What is particularly interesting with this special event is how the human brain identifies with it. As when we see this phenomenon, our minds are geared to ‘take a picture’ of it to give it a ‘label’ and in this scenario, it will be a smiley face. Actually it is just planets aligning during their usual cycle around the sun, but forming a smiley face sounds appealing!
What is rare, is that Jupiter does not usually align so close to the moon as Venus regularly does once a month. So now when Jupiter does, it will look like it and Venus are two eyes and the moon is the big mouth with a delightful smile.
Australia saw this event in 2008 at nighttime between 20h00 and 23h00 with Jupiter being the right eye and Venus being the left one. The next time they will see this happen again in in 2036.
So if you would like to see the skies smiling down on you, remember to look up on the 16th of May 2020!
#HeadlineChallenge: The world needs reasons to smile – and the solar system is about to give us a helping hand. On May 16, a crescent moon, beneath Venus & Jupiter, will form a smiley face in the sky…@PeteBarronMedia goes with PUT ON A HAPPY SPACE. pic.twitter.com/G6Tmz0Lx34
— BBC Radio Tees (@BBCTees) March 30, 2020