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Moon and Jupiter closest May 7

Tonight – May 7, 2017 – watch for the bright waxing gibbous moon to pair up with the giant planet Jupiter. They’ll be easy to spot. Jupiter, the fifth planet outward from the sun and largest planet in our solar system, is currently the brightest starlike object in the evening sky. Next to the moon, it’ll be a beautiful sight!

The star below the May 7 moon and Jupiter is Spica, brightest light in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. By May 8, the moon will have edged closer to Spica. Want to know more about Spica? Try tomorrow’s night sky post.

The chart shows the moon’s position for North America. From the world’s Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Africa and Asia), the moon’s position will be somewhat offset toward the previous date. The green line depicts the ecliptic – the sun’s annual pathway in front of the constellations of the zodiac.

The moon appears much larger than Jupiter in our sky, but that’s only because the moon is so much closer. At present, the moon lies nearly 250,000 miles (400,000 km) away, while Jupiter lies far beyond the moon, at over 1,700 times the moon’s distance from Earth.

Jupiter is truly the giant world in our solar system. The diameter of Jupiter is about 11 times that of our planet Earth. But its surface area is about 121 (11 x 11 = 121) times greater than Earth’s surface area, and its volume is about 1,331 (11 x 11 x 11 = 1,331) times the volume of Earth.

Click here to know the moon’s present distance from Earth in kilometers, miles or astronomical units (AU). Click here or click here to find out Jupiter’s present distance from Earth in astronomical units (AU).

The planets in our solar system on May 7, 2017. Not to scale. The sun is the yellow ball at the center. Earth is the 3rd planet, and Jupiter is the 5th planet, from the sun. Earth passed between Jupiter and the sun on April 7, and then Jupiter was directly opposite the sun in our sky, rising at sunset. Now we’re offset from that sun-Jupiter line a bit, but Jupiter is still ascending in our eastern sky as the sun descends below our western horizon. Image via Fourmilab.

Bottom line: On May 7, 2017, let the moon introduce you to Jupiter, the giant world that has more than twice the mass of all the other planets and moons in our solar system combined.

Bruce McClure