Calling all stargazers: Venus and Jupiter visible from Northern Ireland tonight
Venus, the 'Evening Star' has been lighting up the evening twilight for the past few months but tonight it will be joined by the second brightest 'star' Jupiter.
Stargazers in Northern Ireland could be in for a treat tonight as from 10.45pm they could get a clear view of Venus but you will have to wait until around 11pm to spot Jupiter.
Although Venus and Jupiter are planets, they're so far away that they appear like to stars to the naked eye
The orbits of both planets have gradually been bringing Venus and Jupiter ever closer together as we see them from Earth.
Tonight, Jupiter and Venus will appear much less than a Moon diameter apart and is expected they will be visible in the same field of view through a telescope.
Terry Moseley, president of the Irish Astronomical Association said: "This occurrence is very rare. It happens every few years or so but it is never really visible from this part of the world and the stars are usually too close to the sun to be spotted."
The Irish Astronomical Association have advised those wishing to see the stars to find a clear horizon to the west and to look for them low in the sky. Looking during twilight about 10.45 pm will give a clear view of Venus but watchers may have to wait until around 11pm to spot Jupiter.
Even though they appear so close together Venus is a 'mere' 48 million miles away, whereas Jupiter is 565 million miles away: they just happen to lie in the same line of sight.
From 1 July on they will gradually appear to separate, and sink lower in the evening twilight.
People living near Divis, Black Mountain or Cave Hill may have their view obstructed by the hills so we have found the best places to see the stars.
Best Places to view the stars tonight
Top of Hightown Road
Top 5 Stargazing Tips
1. Get well away from the artificial lights of towns and cities to get the best view of the night sky.
2. If you want to see the most stars and galaxies and clusters etc, wait for at least 10 minutes after coming out from a lit room.
3. A pair of binoculars will show you amazing sights like dozens of stars in the Seven Sisters star cluster, the Great Orion Nebula, where stars and planets are being formed right now, and the Andromeda Galaxy, which is about 15 million million! miles away. They will also show you amazing giant craters on the moon, especially when it's at half phase.
4. Check the free website www.heavens-above.com for times when the International Space Station will be visible as a brilliant moving star, easily visible from all of N. Ireland.
5. Look out on the night of 12-13 August for the beautiful Perseid meteor shower; get to a good dark sky location for the best view. Full details of all interesting events will be on the Irish Astronomical Association website: www.irishastro.org.