Tonight – September 2, 2016 – for those at northerly latitudes, it won’t be easy to catch the waxing crescent moon and planet Jupiter in the western sky. They’ll both follow the sun beneath the horizon before it gets good and dark. From North America, you might be lucky enough to see both the moon and Jupiter in the same binocular field together some 30 to 40 minutes (or possibly sooner) after sunset.
The planet Venus, which shines above the moon and Jupiter, will be easier to spot than Jupiter this evening. Venus not only outshines Jupiter, but stays out a little later after sunset. Even so, Venus sets about one hour after sundown at mid-northern latitudes. Binoculars still might be in order.
The above sky chart is for mid-northern latitudes in North America. At mid-northern latitudes in Europe and Asia, Jupiter and Venus will be similarly positioned in the western sky. However, a thinner crescent moon will be closer to the horizon and will set sooner after sundown.
If you miss seeing the moon after sunset September 2, try again on September 3, 4 and 5. Each following day will present a wider evening crescent higher up in the west at sunset and setting later after nightfall.
The Southern Hemisphere has the big advantage over the Northern Hemisphere because the moon, Jupiter and Venus stay out longer after sunset at more southerly latitudes than at more northerly latitudes. The sky chart below is for tonight (September 2) as viewed from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America.
The moon, Venus and Jupiter rank as the second-brightest, third-brightest and fourth-brightest celestial objects to light up the heavens, after the sun. Even so, all these worlds will be a hard to catch after sunset, as they sit low in the west at dusk and follow the sun beneath the horizon shortly thereafter.
Bottom line: How many will see the moon and Jupiter beneath Venus after sunset September 2, 2016? If you have binoculars, and a clear western horizon after sunset, you can be one of the few!