The moon will make a close approach to Jupiter and Saturn in the predawn sky on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (Image credit: SkySafari)
Early-bird skywatchers have a chance to can see the moon swing by two bright planets in the predawn sky on Tuesday (May 12).
Over the course of the next few days, the moon will scoot eastward in the morning sky. On Tuesday, it will be in the constellation of Sagittarius (the archer), along with Jupiter. By Wednesday, it will be in the constellation Capricornus (the sea goat), where Saturn is currently located, and by Friday morning the moon will be snuggling up to Mars in the constellation Aquarius (the water bearer).
Jupiter will be in conjunction with the moon, meaning they share the same celestial longitude, on Tuesday at 5:41 a.m. EDT (0941 GMT) — at the exact time that the sun will rise over New York City, according to the skywatching website In-The-Sky.org. The moon will be 2.25 degrees to the south of Jupiter at that time. (For reference, your clenched fist held at arm’s length measures about 10 degrees wide.)
Saturn will also be in conjunction with the moon that same day, but not until 2:11 p.m. EDT (1811 GMT), when daylight will hamper the view of the ringed planet. Although Saturn will not be visible at the time of its closest approach, it will appear almost as close to the moon on the morning of the encounter. When they are at their closest, the moon will be 2.6 degrees to the south of Saturn.
If you’re more of a night owl than a morning person, you can also catch the trio together after midnight. For example, Jupiter rises over New York City at 12:44 a.m. local time on Tuesday (May 12), followed by Saturn 16 minutes later, according to timeanddate.com. Jupiter sets again at 5:30 a.m., followed by Saturn at 5:50 a.m. local time. The moon rises over New York City at 12:48 a.m. and sets again at 10:15 a.m. local time.
In the southeastern sky on Friday morning, May 15 between about 4 a.m. local time and sunrise, the crescent moon will appear three finger widths to the lower left (or 3.25 degrees to the celestial southeast) of reddish Mars. Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune will share the sky with Mars and the moon, but dim and distant Neptune will not be visible without a telescope. The morning meet-up will offer another fine photo opportunity featuring the moon and bright planets. (Image credit: Starry Night)
Mars is also visible in the morning sky this week, and it will have its own close encounter with the moon on Thursday night. The Red Planet will be in conjunction with the moon on Thursday (May 14) at 10:02 p.m. EDT (0202 GMT on May 15). It will rise that morning over New York City at 2:18 a.m. local time and will still be in the sky by the time dawn breaks.
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