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Venus, Jupiter, moon plan a holiday gathering

November 27, 2008|ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — It's not just families that are getting together for Thanksgiving. The three brightest objects in the night sky -- Venus, Jupiter and a crescent moon -- will crowd in for an unusual group shot.

Starting tonight, Jupiter and Venus will begin moving closer together, so that by Sunday and Monday they will appear 2 degrees apart. That's about a finger width held out at arm's length, said Alan M. MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. On Monday night, they will be joined by a crescent moon, he said.

Look in the southwestern sky around twilight -- no telescope or binoculars needed. The show will even be visible in cities if it's a clear night.

"It'll be a head-turner," MacRobert said. "This certainly is an unusual coincidence for the crescent moon to be right there in the days when [Venus and Jupiter] are going to be closest together."

The next time the three will be as close and visible as this week will be Nov. 18, 2052, according to Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and host of "Star Gazer" on PBS.

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