The big, bright gibbous Moon has a big, bright companion the next couple of nights -- the planet Jupiter. They rise in late evening. Tonight, Jupiter is a little to the left of the Moon as they climb into view. It looks like a brilliant star -- the brightest object in the evening sky right now other than the Moon.
The two bodies stay quite low as they scoot across the southern sky. And they're not in view for very long. From most of the United States, they set only about eight to ten hours after they rise.
In fact, the Moon is just past full, and the full Moon of June is known as the Short Moon. It remains in view for less time than any other full Moon of the year, and stays lower in the sky.
That's because the full Moon does just the opposite of what the Sun is doing. Since summer starts tomorrow in the northern hemisphere, the Sun soars high overhead, and remains above the horizon longer than at any other time of the year.
The Sun's path across the sky is like a big hoop around Earth. When the Sun passes high overhead, the other side of the hoop stays low -- and that's where the Moon and Jupiter are right now. As the seasons change, though, the hoop tilts the other way -- high overhead at night, and low in the sky during the day. So six months from now, we'll see a lot of the full Moon -- but very little of the Sun.
More about Jupiter, the Moon, and the seasons tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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