Even though you can use software to predict and picture something like Jupiter and the moon squaring up this morning, seeing it is quite a different experience. They were just, well, so tight and so bright together. It’s been a while since we’ve had such a close conjunction of the moon and a bright planet visible from North America.
I trained a small 4-inch refracting telescope on the pair and enjoyed the extreme contrast in their textures and colors. First the moon: all edgy with craters and long shadows and the color of an old photograph. Creamy Jupiter with its sleak belts looked airbrushed in contrast.
Another unexpected aspect of the conjunction was seeing how fast the moon moved. Jupiter stood directly above (north) of the moon at 6 a.m. (CDT), but a half hour later, I could plainly see that the two were slightly “out of alignment”.
While the planet faded in a bluing sky, it was still easily visible with the naked eye at sunrise.
Matter of fact, if you’re reading this now and missed the conjunction, you can still see it this morning in broad daylight. Point your binoculars at the moon high in the southwestern sky, and use the illustration from yesterday’s blog. I just spotted it in my pair of 8 x 40s at 9:30 today; Jupiter was quite easy and looked like a pale white dot. For those of you who got up early to see the conjunction, I hope you feel compensated for your lost pillow time.