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.
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.
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.
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.