Explained: What are those two extra bright evening 'stars'?

THOSE two bright stars that have appeared on the horizon in the evenings aren't stars at all - they're planets.

Venus and Jupiter are putting on a display only seen once about every 25 years.

Jupiter, the smaller 'star', is approaching the other side of the solar system and from earth appears to have passed very close to Venus.

In South Africa star gazers were treated to what's known as the 'dancing of the planets' which saw the two planets appear to touch each other before moving apart.

For Queenslanders, the planets have been appearing as the sun sets and burning brightly in the evening sky before dropping below the horizon around 6.30pm.

Kingaroy astronomer James Barclay captured these images of Venus and Jupiter appearing low and bright in the sky this month.
Kingaroy astronomer James Barclay captured these images of Venus and Jupiter appearing low and bright in the sky this month. Astronomer James Barclay

During the next few weeks the two planets will continue to move further away from each other.

Once Jupiter has moved into its new position in October, it won't be visible form earth until February next year.

Kingaroy astronomer James Barclay has been watching the planets since they appeared clearly a few days ago.

Venus and Jupiter as seen through a telescope.
Venus and Jupiter as seen through a telescope. Astronomer James Barclay

"We can see Jupiter sitting just below Venus in this way because it approaching the other side of the solar system," Mr Barclay said.

"For those with binoculars about 6pm, or just when the sun's last light begins disappearing is the best time to have a look."

He said the event was beautiful but not considered 'rare' compared to the once in a lifetime sighting expected next year when Saturn and Mars will appear in the sky together.


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