THE MOON and Jupiter reached conjunction this week meaning they’re pretty close together in the sky.
The two celestial objects reached conjunction yesterday but you could try looking for them late this evening and into the early hours of the morning.
Venus is to the left of the Moon and Jupiter is higher up and to the right in this image[/caption]
The best time to view the Moon and Jupiter near each other will be after midnight and before sunrise.
The slimming Moon should appear a few degrees to the south of Jupiter.
You won’t be able to view them both in the same telescope frame.
They should still be visible with the naked eye if you have some binoculars and the sky is clear.
Jupiter will be low in southeast sky at around midnight but rises higher as dawn approaches.
You’ll find it in the Aquarius constellation.
Saturn will also be visible in the predawn sky.
Saturn will be lower down than Jupiter and to the right.
If you’re unsure what you’re looking at you could always download a night sky scanning app that lets your smartphone pinpoint constellations and stars.
Make sure you give your eyes a break from your phone afterwards though, stargazing is best when your eyes have adjusted to the dark.
Stargazing apps for Android and iPhone include: SkyView Lite, Star Tracker and Star Walk 2.
Some apps are free but a lot of them charge so it depends if you want to put up with adverts or not.
It’s advisable to read the reviews of an app and look at how many people have rated it before downloading.
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here's what you need to know…
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
Most read in Science
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