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Starwatch: Venus outshines Saturn in twilight conjunction

Starwatch chart looking west-south-west from London on Sunday 22 January 2023 towards the close conjunction of Saturn and Venus

The brilliantly bright planet Venus passes Saturn this week in a particularly close conjunction that is visible across the globe. On the evening of Sunday 22 January, shortly after sunset, the two planets will appear low in the western sky, bathed in twilight.

The chart shows the view looking west-south-west from London at 17.30 GMT on 22 January. Saturn will appear to be 75 times fainter than Venus. This is because although Saturn’s diameter of about 120,000km is almost 10 times wider than Venus, it is about seven times further away from Earth.

Venus will appear a brilliant white, and Saturn will be a dull yellow colour. The pair will be visible to the naked eye and will make a very pleasing view in binoculars. However, wait until the sun has set before using the binoculars, catching even a glimpse of the sun through an optical instrument can permanently damage your eyes.

The conjunction is visible across the globe. From the southern hemisphere, such as Cape Town, South Africa or Sydney, Australia, the time to look is about 8.30pm local time. The following night, the planetary pair remain close and are joined by a thin crescent moon.

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