Get ready for a really fine conjunction of the moon and Jupiter overnight. There are at least three different times and ways to view it. If you’re out around midnight tonight, you’ll see the last quarter moon rise right alongside brilliant Jupiter in the northeast. The two will be only about 2 degrees apart and make an eye-catching sight.
The later you’re up, the closer they’ll draw together. Jupiter remains nearly stationery in the sky overnight since it’s so far away, but the nearby moon moves along much more quickly. It will creep closer to the planet during the night until the two are only 0.6 degrees apart at 6 a.m. (CDT) tomorrow morning.
If you’re out in morning twilight before sunrise, the duo will be high in the south and separated by little more than one moon diameter. They’ll make an awesome sight. Low power telescopes will be able to easily squeeze both Luna and Jupiter in the same field of view. As a bonus, all four of Jupiter’s brightest moons will be strung out like pearls on either side of the planet.
For those who can’t fathom getting up at those hours, the moon will still by high in the southwestern sky around 9 a.m. Hopefully you’ll be out of your pajamas by then. Point your binoculars at the moon and see if you can spot Jupiter about 1.5 degrees to its right. The planet will look like a tiny spark of a star. Use the picture in the panel above to help you look in the right spot.
European and African observers will see the two close together but not quite as tight as folks in North and South America. And if you’re reading this from about latitude 35 degrees south of the equator, you’ll see the moon actually cover up Jupiter. Any way you cut it, you might want to try photographing the lineup. Dawn’s best and easiest for making brief time exposures in a deep blue sky.