Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

117,150 subscribers and counting ...

Waning moon above two brightest planets at dawn August 22

2014-aug-21-jupiter-venus-moon-night-sky-chart

Tonight for August 21, 2014

Get up an hour or more before sunrise on August 22 to see the wonderful celestial attraction in the eastern sky. Look for the three brightest heavenly bodies of nighttime – the moon, Venus and Jupiter – to beautify the morning dawn. Look first for the slender waning crescent moon, and then seek Jupiter and Venus closer to the horizon.

When can you see earthshine on a crescent moon?

These worlds – the moon, Venus and Jupiter – shine by reflecting the light of the sun. They are not like the sparkling stars, which shine by their own light. The moon, Jupiter and Venus are quite literally bathing beauties because they are basking in wondrous sunshine. By the way, if you get up before dawn and have binoculars, you may be able to spot the Beehive star cluster in the same binocular field with Jupiter. Try your luck about 90 minutes before sunrise.

2014-aug-21-text-jupiter-beehive-castor-pollux-night-sky

Jupiter, the 5th planet from the sun, ranks as the largest and most massive planet of the solar system. This giant world is some 318 times more massive than Earth (but 1,321 times the volume). This planet always beams brightly in our sky because the cloud cover on this huge planet effectively reflects sunlight.

Venus, the 2nd planet from the sun, is sometimes called our “sister planet” because this world is nearly the same as Earth in mass and size. Venus has about 0.82 the mass and 0.86 the volume of our planet Earth. Unlike Earth, however, Venus is completely covered over by clouds, making this very reflective, nearby world especially brilliant in Earth’s sky.

Watch the waning crescent moon swing by the planets Jupiter and Venus over the next several days. The green line depicts the ecliptic - the Earth's orbital plane projected onto the dome of sky

Watch the waning crescent moon swing by the planets Jupiter and Venus over the next several days. The green line depicts the ecliptic – the Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the dome of sky

Bottom line: See the beautiful sky show before sunrise on August 22, as the waning crescent moon guides your eye to the sky’s brightest and second-brightest planets: Venus and Jupiter.

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere from our store.

Help support EarthSky! Check out the EarthSky store for fun astronomy gifts and tools for all ages!