onight is the very best time to see the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter—the two brightest planets to the naked eye—in the Western sky over Encino.
"Though the two planets will appear to converge all this week, they'll be at their closest March 15—separated by only 3 degrees in the sky, or the width of two fingers at arms' length," according to National Geographic.
Although they seem close together, it is an optical illusion. Venus is 75.9 million miles from Earth, and Jupiter is seven times farther away at 524 million miles. Their close appearance in the sky is called a conjunction.
Venus-Jupiter conjunctions are fairly common, Geza Gyuk, astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago told National Geographic. The next one will be May 28, 2013, when the planets will appear three times closer together than they will this week.
"One of the leading theories for the Star of Bethlehem legend involves a close conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the sunset skies in June of 2 B.C.," according to the National Geographic report "Christmas Star Mystery Continues."