Before dawn tomorrow – October 27, 2016 – watch for the moon and Jupiter in the eastern sky, near the place where the sun will rise. Miss them on the morning of the 27th? Then look again on the morning of October 28, when the moon and Jupiter will be even closer together.
Over these next few mornings, the moon and Jupiter will be visible from around the world. On October 27, the waning crescent moon will rise first and the planet Jupiter will follow the moon over the eastern horizon shortly before dawn (roughly two hours before sunrise) at mid-northern latitudes. From temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, Jupiter rises as darkness gives way to dawn (roughly an hour before sunrise).
From either the Northern Hemisphere or Southern Hemisphere, the bow of the waning crescent moon will point toward Jupiter on October 27.
That’ll be interesting to see, but not necessary in finding the giant planet. Jupiter shines as the second-brightest object – after the moon – in the early morning sky now.
If you live at mid-northern latitudes and farther north, you can also see the brilliant star Arcturus to the north (left) of the moon and Jupiter before sunrise October 27.
By the way, from northerly latitudes, you can also catch Arcturus in the west after sunset, too. Every year, in late October, Arcturus shines in the west after sunset as well as in the east before sunrise at northerly latitudes.
Arcturus is not visible at all from the Southern Hemisphere at this time of year. Moreover, this star’s double appearance in the evening and morning sky is difficult to view from the northern tropics.
Still, it’s interesting … and due to the fact that Arcturus is located so far north on our sky’s dome.
Now – if we can switch entirely to the west after sunset …
Venus is the bright object shining there. It’ll continue to shine as the “evening star” for the rest of this year. It’s very interesting to see bright Venus in the west after sunset, and nearly-as-bright Jupiter in the east before dawn. Jupiter ranks as the four-brightest celestial body after the sun, moon and Venus. So these two worlds – Venus and Jupiter – are really very, very bright and they are anchoring opposite sides of the sky right now.
Plus there are two other planets in the sky at nightfall, as shown on the chart below.
Bottom line: If you don’t spot the moon and Jupiter tomorrow morning, on October 27, 2016 try again the following day, October 28, as the morning couple snuggles up more closely.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.