Astronomy is often thought to be static, that the stars don’t move, and planets move so slowly as to be unnoticeable. In the weeks ahead, Venus and Jupiter will tell a different story.

The two are some of the brightest planets in the solar system, and lately they have been acting like star-crossed lovers. By Tuesday night, they will appear close enough to shake hands, or if both are in accord perhaps something more romantic. Even more striking is that in the next few days their movements will be on view in real time, a planetary lineup that has been watched for weeks.

Venus arrived in our late evening sky early this year. At the time, Jupiter was still hanging out in the zodiacal constellation Leo, an interstellar man cave if you will. But then something magical began to occur. Slowly the planets started to close in on each other, just a gradual drifting at first and then about a week ago the relationship grew hotter, faster and closer. Now both planets are in Leo, along with the bright star Regulus, watching nearby.

Venus and Jupiter will be closest on June 30, so close in fact they may appear coupled, a bright mix of interstellar bodies resembling one star. But this will not be a lasting relationship. Beginning on July 1, the two planets will begin to part, moving away from each other as their stellar gam comes to a close. After all, they did make an unlikely pair.

Venus is quite small in the way of space, smaller than the Earth. It shines so big and bright because it is both covered with clouds that reflect light easily, and it is a relatively close neighbor — again, by interstellar standards. Venus resides 48 million miles away from Earth, almost half the distance between us and the sun.

Jupiter, on the other hand, is a giant, topping off at 1,525 times the size of Venus and 1,321 times larger than Earth. It could also be described as volatile, with a spinning hurricane, visible to us as a red spot. But it dresses well, covered by colorful liquefied gases held tightly by an extreme gravitational pull. You can enter anytime you want but you can never, never leave — unless maybe if you are still 517 million miles away like Venus is.

As with many relationships gone sour, when looked at from afar, say with a small powered telescope, the planets appear both distant and different. Venus is now in the crescent phase, while Jupiter is a slightly elongated ball surrounded by four visible moons.

The light coming from these two planets is also quite different. It takes light from Venus four minutes to reach us, whereas it takes 50 minutes for light to arrive from Jupiter. For comparison, light from the sun reaches us in about eight minutes.

Through the centuries there has been plenty of speculation about the significance of these two planets getting together. After all, Jupiter is a king in Greek and Roman mythology, and Venus is the goddess of beauty in Roman mythology. Not a bad match, which may be why they keep trying one more time. A conjunction of Venus and Jupiter more than 2,000 years ago still fuels some explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. But that conjunction has been recorded as taking place on June 17, 2 B.C., and is probably not close enough.

There was also a conjunction last year and there will be another one next year. But this year is different as it takes place during the Fourth of July celebrations, when so many will be looking up into the night sky.

Sometimes it can be so difficult to find a place to be alone, even in space.