It’s the time of the seasons when the maximum number of people can see the year’s finest three-way conjunction. Choose one of the many fireworks nights our local towns have chosen for their celebrations. Or wait until Bastille Day. Or best of all, find a clear, open place that faces the northwest where the Sun just set, and be there this Sunday evening (July 11) or else Monday evening the 12th.
What’s the most romantic gift for your sweetheart? A book of poetry? A candlelight dinner? Excellent choices — but as a nightcap, what’s better than the Goddess of Love in person?
In most of the United States, a romantic meeting of the three nearest worlds could be an arctic experience, and usually does indeed happen in icy conditions. Not this time. You needn’t be an incurable romantic to silently point out the low crescent Moon one of those two evenings. She’s called Chandra in India, and that very word for “moon” conjures romance throughout that subcontinent.
But Sunday and again Monday evenings – anytime between 9 and 9:30 p.m. — a super-brilliant “star” floats next to that hair-thin crescent Moon. This, of course, is the only solar system object that manages even a greater love-connection, since it’s nothing less than the ancient Goddess of Love herself.
It’ll be totally, absolutely riveting. And the story still doesn’t end there, because sharp-eyed observers or else cheaters who’ve brought along binoculars will see a much fainter orange star virtually touching Venus. This is Mars, completing the triumvirate of Earth’s three nearest companions. All three, gathered closely together. Sure, you can easily find something sciencey to say about the Chinese lander now exploring Mars. But if you think fast and clear the sleepy cobwebs from your mind, you can instead say to him or her: “That’s Venus, darling. A perfect, eternal symbol of our love.”
And that, guaranteed, will make this week in July more than 2021’s finest conjunction. It’ll elevate it to one that will always be remembered. If you own binoculars, bring ‘em along. You won’t need them, but, hey, even a 5% boost above perfection isn’t anything to sneeze at.