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The Moon and Venus in the evening sky on three consecutive days, showing an appulse in the centre image.

Appulse is an astronomical term that refers to the closest apparent separation between one celestial object to another, as seen from a third body.[1] The term usually refers to the closest apparent approach of two planets together in the sky, or of the Moon to a star or planet while the Moon orbits Earth, as seen from Earth.

An appulse is related to a conjunction, but the definitions differ in detail. While an appulse occurs when the apparent separation between two bodies is at its minimum, a conjunction occurs at the instant when the two bodies have the same right ascension or the same ecliptic longitude. In general, the precise time of an appulse will be different from that of a conjunction.[2] It is possible in some particular cases for an appulse to occur without a conjunction.

Where the celestial bodies come so close together that one actually passes over the other, the event is known as a transit, occultation, or eclipse.

An appulse is an apparent phenomenon caused by perspective only; the two objects involved are not near in physical space. Scientists[who?] insist that appulses have no direct effect on the Earth.[citation needed] They can be interesting naked-eye events for general observers when involving bright planets and the Moon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office and United States Naval Observatory (2012). "Appulse". Glossary, The Astronomical Almanac Online. Retrieved 2014-10-28. 
  2. ^ Jean Meeus (1991). Astronomical Algorithms. Astronomical Algorithms. Willman-Bell Inc., Richmond, Virginia.