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Out late tonight? See moon and Jupiter

Tonight – February 14, 2017 – you can watch the moon, Jupiter and the star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Maiden climbing above the eastern horizon by about 10 to 11 p.m. local time. If you’re out late with your sweetheart on this Valentine’s Day 2017, it might be fun to point out this very bright planet. On the other hand, if you’re not a night owl, you might want to wake up before sunrise (February 15) instead, to view the moon, Jupiter and Spica in the predawn sky.

Either way, that brilliant starlike object near the waning gibbous moon will be the dazzling planet Jupiter, and that star by Jupiter will be the constellation Virgo’s brightest, Spica.

Click here for recommended almanacs; they can help you find the exact rising times for the moon, Jupiter and Spica into your sky.

After the threesome – the moon, Jupiter and Spica – come up above the horizon tonight, they’ll continue to climb upward until soaring highest up for the night at roughly 4 a.m. local time, as seen from around the world. Afterwards, the celestial trio will begin to sink downward, though well placed for viewing in before dawn’s light washes the sky.

Jupiter and Spica rise about four minutes earlier daily and one-half hour earlier weekly.

So in another month or so, you can look forward to seeing Jupiter and Spica in the evening sky well before your bedtime. Jupiter’s opposition – when Earth will pass between this outer planet and the sun, marking the middle of the best time of year to see it – will come on April 7, 2017.

Tom Wildoner caught this shot of bright Jupiter near the star Spica on February 3, 2017. He wrote at his blog: “Jupiter remains in Virgo through much of 2017, crossing into Libra in mid-November.”

Bottom line: Tonight – February 14, 2017 – you can watch the moon, Jupiter and Spica climbing above the eastern horizon at late evening or in the predawn sky on February 15.

Bruce McClure

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