The moon is taking a tour of some of the brightest planets in the night sky this week and will shine near Saturn tonight (December 6) with Jupiter and bright Venus also in view.
The crescent crescent moon will be visible from the northern hemisphere as it passes the ringed planet Saturn at dusk about an hour after sunset looking to the southwest, according to EarthSky.
Saturn will appear rather faint compared to its planetary siblings: the ‘evening star’ Venus, which shines at its brightest this week, and the bright giant Jupiter. The three planets will adorn the evening sky like pearls suspended from a string in a diagonal line inclined towards the horizon at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. This line delineates the plane of the ecliptic of the solar system in which all the planets orbit the sun as seen from our position on Earth, EarthSky said.
Related: Want to see Leonard’s Comet? Here are recommendations for telescopes and binoculars.
Jupiter and Venus are the two brightest ‘stars’ in the December sky, so the trio should be easy to spot.
As the crescent moon rises in the sky, rising higher each day, it passes by each of the planets. On Monday (December 6), the Earth companion visited Venus and will pass by Jupiter between Thursday and Friday (December 8 and 9).
You can observe the moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus with the naked eye, but if you want a clearer view, you can use binoculars or a telescope. Our guides to the best telescopes and binoculars can help you find the right instrument for you. If you want to take photos of the planets and the moon, here are our guides on the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography, and how to photograph the moon with a camera.
Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn will glide across the sky toward the setting sun for the next several weeks, and Venus will disappear below the horizon on January 9. The ‘evening star’ will resurface in late January as the ‘morning star’, visible to early risers in the sky before sunrise.
This temporary disappearance is due to the planet crossing the line between the sun and the Earth. Jupiter and Saturn have orbits much larger than Earth and cannot pass between our planet and the sun. They too will disappear in early 2022 as they move to the side farthest from the Sun, away from Earth.
Both planets will reach what astronomers call their highest conjunction in February and March respectively, when they will hide most directly behind the sun as seen from Earth. After that, they will re-emerge in the sky before sunrise, according to EarthSky.
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