Astronomy enthusiasts, skywatchers and those who happened to look west this past week on Wednesday night will have caught a glimpse of a special celestial display.

Social media feeds in Southern Manitoba were busy since the sun went down, with pictures of what appear to be two very bright lights in the western sky, the one on the right a little bigger and brighter than the one on the left.


So, what was it that we saw?

Darren Enns explained they were the planets Jupiter and Venus, coming together in a celestial event called the Venus-Jupiter conjunction. The two planets are the brightest we can see from Earth, and throughout February, the two bodies have been creeping closer together each night.

"Both appear much brighter than the rest of the planets – Venus because it is so relatively close to us, and Jupiter because it is the largest planet in our Solar System, even though it is very far from us. So, we end up with two very bright planets appearing very close to each other in our sky!" said Enns. 

However, he noted it is merely an optical illusion. 

"Venus is one of the inner planets, like we are, and is currently about 200 million km from us, while Jupiter, one of the outer planets, is more than 800 million km from us. They only appear close to each other because they appear near the same location in the sky." This means the two planets were actually 600 million km apart from each other!


In case you missed the show, it's not too late to catch a glimpse.

While the best night and smallest separation for these two planets happened on Wednesday, you will still be able to see Jupiter and Venus in the western sky just after sunset for the next little while, but the separation will increase each night, added Enns.