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Smiling Moon : Planets Align in a Frown

Monday night (December 1, 2008) there was a bright cosmic frown in the sky. The planets Jupiter and Venus briefly aligned forming two eyes and a moon forming a smiling mouth.

Jupiter is much larger than Venus, it appeared dimmer, because the latter planet is so much closer to Earth.Plus, Jupiter is much farther away from the sun than Venus, so the light bouncing off it is much less intense than the light bouncing off Venus, which hasn't had to travel so far.

It is called a planetary conjunction, the two planets —the brightest in the night sky — appeared extremely close. They won't be this close together and well-placed for viewing again until May 2013.

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