Did you have any luck with last night’s challenge of finding the crescent moon and all five bright planets? I decided to take the challenge too. There were a few surprises. First, the both the thin lunar crescent and Venus were higher and easier to see than I expected. And once the sky darkened a bit, Jupiter was a no-brainer. Mercury however, shining at magnitude +0.9 was much more elusive. Thankfully, the moon was nearly, making the planet an easy catch in binoculars.
Jason Bottari sent along a few photos of the scene too. His wide shot captures the moon, Jupiter and Venus. Compare his closeup of the moon with Mercury. You’ll see that the duo are closer together than in my photo. Boston is in the eastern time zone, so sunset and dusk come an hour earlier than they do in Minnesota. During that hour, the moon moved to the left or east, distancing itself from the planet.
Tonight, you can watch the west again for yet another conjunction, this time of the crescent and Jupiter; they’ll only be 1° apart! Try to see if you can spot any of Jupiter’s moons. You’ll need a pair of 10-power binoculars, sharp focus (focus on the moon first) and steady hands. The map will help you identify the four brightest — Ganymede, Europa, Io and Callisto.
The moons further from the planet, Ganymede and Callisto, should be relatively easy to see. Because of Jupiter’s glare, Io and Europa will prove more challenging. Wait a minute, did I hear that word ‘challenge’ again?