Happy Earth Night! Watch The Moon And Jupiter Tomorrow Morning

Tomorrow morning, the moon and Jupiter will be in close conjunction. Two mornings later, the waning moon passes near Saturn. Stellarium

Happy Earth Day, too! Earth’s still my favorite planet. The only one you where you can inhale deeply and smell a season. After watching the sky for years, you start thinking about our planet as more of a mobile observatory, cycling around the sun with ever-changing vistas of the stars, moon and planets.

Like the Giving Tree in the Shel Silverstein’s book of the same name, we ask much of the Earth, and it gives generously. Tomorrow morning for instance. The waning gibbous moon will team up with the bright planet Jupiter. You can watch them rise together around midnight when they’ll be a little more than 2° apart. For an even more amazing view, rise at dawn tomorrow when they’ll be only 1.3 moon-diameters apart. Steadily-held or tripod-mounted 10x binoculars will show up to four of Jupiter’s moons. Make sure you focus the planet as sharply as possible to accomplish this feat. Then swing by the moon for a look at its crinkly craters.

This illustration shows the moon and Jupiter — with its four bright moons — around 5 a.m. Central Time Tuesday morning as they’ll appear in a small telescope. Sizes and separations are to scale. The moon and Jupiter will be high enough to keep in view until about 7 a.m. local time. Stellarium

Because moon and planet approach so closely this makes an excellent opportunity to spot Jupiter after sunrise in the daytime sky. Just find the moon with your eyes, then focus it in a pair of binoculars. Look a little more than a moon diameter below the moon for a “star” in the blue — that will be the planet. Jupiter has a pale, translucent appearance. If you can spot it in binoculars, then try it without optical aid. Seeing planets in the daytime sky isn’t difficult if the moon is nearby. Although the blue sky looks like an impenetrable barrier, there are still stars and planets shining up there however weakly.

1 Response

  1. kevan hubbard

    Thin clouds for Earthnight form my neck of the woods,but just spied; Capella, Vega and Polaris through the gaps.

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