The morning sky planets have been shuffled and reshuffled over the past few months. Their order is now set from east to west: Venus, Saturn and Jupiter, and the threesome won’t cross paths again until the late fall when Venus returns to the evening sky. This Wednesday, Feb. 27 at dawn, the thick lunar crescent will pass only about 1.5° (three moon diameters) north of Jupiter. This pretty sight will be easy to see no matter where you live. Take a look out the window before you head to work or school.
If you have a little extra time or if you get up late and miss sunrise, you have a great opportunity to see Jupiter in broad daylight. Because the planet is so close to the moon, it’s super easy to find. Just dig out your binoculars and point them at the moon, which stands almost due south at sunrise. Once you’ve got everything sharply focused, use the diagram (above) to find where Jupiter is in relation to the crescent. Notice that the moon’s position and separation varies a bit depending on what part of the country you live in due to its orbital motion.
I’m sure you’ll see Jupiter shortly before and even shortly after sunrise with binoculars, but can you see it with the naked eye? Once you’ve spotted the planet and made a mental note of its position in relation to the moon, lower the binoculars and give it your best shot. I’d love to know if you were successful … or not! The challenge is to see how long can you keep Jupiter in view in binoculars? 8 a.m., 10 a.m.? Drop me a comment and I’ll post your observations later. Good luck!