What’s So Different About Next Week’s Meeting of Jupiter and the Sun

Jupiter is nearing its annual conjunction with the Sun, and it’s attracting a lot of attention in the process.

A Sun/Jupiter conjunction isn’t a terribly rare event by itself– what IS rare this time is the fact that the Sun/Jupiter alignment will take place vertically as well as horizontally.

In other words, what we’ll be getting next week will be the Sun eclipsing Jupiter. As seen from our perspective here on Earth, Jupiter will be passing behind the Sun, coming less than a quarter of a degree away from the exact center of the solar disk.

That’s an extremely precise alignment, so it’s attracted plenty of notice from the astronomers peering through telescopes, although it hasn’t gotten much extra attention from the astrological community. Thanks to NASA and its Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SoHO), we got this coronagraph picture earlier today, showing Jupiter approaching the Sun.

Jupiter Approaches Sun

In this coronagraph, an opaque disk covers the body of the Sun, making it possible to view stars and planets that would otherwise be invisible in the solar glare. The bright spot to the left of the Sun is Jupiter, moving towards its solar conjunction on June 19.

When this photo was taken, Jupiter was about three and a half degrees away from the Sun. The conjunction will be taking place in late Gemini on June 19, just two days before the Summer Solstice. It’s already impossible to see Jupiter’s approach with the naked eye, however, thanks to the power of the solar glare.

That’s why it’s so wonderful having the SoHO photos and other NASA materials available– they not only take us past the realm of our astrological charts; they also take us far beyond what we can observe by just staring up into the sky.

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