Beauty! Moon and Jupiter May 25 to 28 | 5/25/2018 | Bruce McClure
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On May 25 to 28, 2018 – if you have a clear sky – you’ll surely notice a very bright “star” near the moon. This object is really a planet, Jupiter. Once Venus sets in the west, not long after the sun, the moon and Jupiter are the two brightest objects in the nighttime sky.

On some of these nights, you might notice a fainter true star – still one of our sky’s brightest stars – Spica in the moon’s glare. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, and it’s a key star of the zodiac. Though a 1st-magnitude star, Spica is some 20 times fainter than Jupiter. But Jupiter’s brightness, stems from its relative nearness to Earth, while Spica is a distant star, some 262 light-years away.

Spica - Magnitude - Antares - Star - Zodiac

Spica’s magnitude is virtually the same as that of Antares, another key star of the zodiac. Want to compare them, but don’t know how to recognize Antares? Jupiter resides roughly midway between these two bright stars, and the moon will travel close Antares on the sky’s dome on May 28, as shown on the sky chart above.

Notice how nearly full and round the moon appears in our sky this weekend. Jupiter and the moon will be closest on May 27, and the moon will be full on May 29. Meanwhile, this is Jupiter’s opposition month; that is, Earth just flew between Jupiter and the sun, placing Jupiter opposite the sun in our sky. A full moon is also opposite the sun as seen from Earth.

Accident - Jupiter - Sky - Dome - Moon

Thus it’s no accident that Jupiter is close on the sky’s dome to this nearly full moon around now. Both Jupiter and the moon are, more or less, opposite the sun.

The planets in our solar system in late May 2018. The sun is the yellow ball...
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