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Moon and Jupiter

May 11, 2013

Two of the three brightest objects in the night sky stage a beautiful conjunction the next couple of evenings. And the third member of the bright trio is also nearby, although it’s a little bit tougher to spot.

The brightest of the three is the Moon, which is quite low in the west as night begins to fall. It’s a thin crescent right now, which means that the Sun is illuminating only a tiny sliver of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way.

The planet Jupiter stands above the Moon this evening. It looks like a brilliant cream-colored star. It’s the third-brightest object in the night sky. Right now, though, Jupiter is near its faintest. That’s because it’s getting ready to pass on the far side of the Sun as seen from Earth, so it’s farthest away from us — more than half a billion miles. Even so, Jupiter still outshines all the true stars in the night sky.

The second-brightest object in the night sky, the planet Venus, is to the lower right of the Moon. Although it’s quite bright, it’s also quite low in the sky, so there’s not much time to look for it before it drops below the horizon. And any buildings or trees along the horizon will block it from view.

Over the next few nights, though, Venus will climb higher into the evening sky, so it’ll be much easier to pick out. In fact, Venus and Jupiter will sweep past each other in just a couple of weeks. We’ll keep you posted. And we’ll have more about the Moon and Jupiter tomorrow.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2013

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