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Moon rises ahead of Jupiter late night September 26-27

2013-sept-26-jupiter-castor-pollux-night-sky-chart

Tonight for September 26, 2013

Super bright object in the west after sunset? That’s Venus!

Depending where you live on Earth, you may – or may not – catch the moon rising over the east-northeast horizon before midnight on Thursday, September 26. The moon rises at very late evening or after midnight at North American mid-northern latitudes. At temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, the moon rises a few hours after midnight.

After the moon climbs over the horizon, watch for the dazzling planet Jupiter to follow the moon into sky approximately 40 minutes thereafter at North American mid-northern latitudes. However, the lag between moonrise and when Jupiter rises varies around the world, so you might want to consult an astronomical almanac for precise rising times.

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If you’re not a night owl, your best bet is to get up early tomorrow. The moon and Jupiter are the brightest and second-brightest celestial bodies to light up the predawn and dawn hours, so you should have little trouble seeing either in the morning sky. Simply look for the moon and then seek for nearby Jupiter.

First quarter Earth as seen from last quarter moon

The first quarter Earth as seen from the last quarter moon on 2013 September 27 at 3:55 Universal Time. Credit: Earth and Moon Viewer

By the way, the moon will be at the vicinity of last quarter moon tonight. At last quarter, the moon is half-lit in sunshine and half-submerged in its own shadow. The terminator – the dividing line between the lunar day and lunar night – shows you where its sunset on the waning last quarter moon.

By the way, the last quarter moon falls on September 27, at precisely 3:55 Universal Time. For the Eastern seaboard in the United States, that means the last quarter moon occurs at late night on September 26, at 11:55 p.m. That’s about the same time as moonrise for that part of the U.S.

By the way, if you were on the last quarter moon, looking back at Earth, you’d see the Earth at the first quarter phase. Moreover, the Earth’s terminator – the dividing line between day and night – would show you where it’s sunrise on the waxing first quarter Earth.

So whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, use the moon to find the brilliant planet Jupiter in the predawn and dawn sky on Friday, September 27.