Tonight – January 27, 2016 – as seen from around the world, the waning gibbous moon will shine closer to the giant planet Jupiter that it did last night. Watch these two bright beauties climb over the eastern horizon a few to several hours after sunset!
Once the moon and Jupiter rise, they’ll be out for rest of the night. You can’t miss them. Jupiter is the brightest starlike object up there until Venus, the sky’s brightest planet, makes her appearance in the eastern sky during the predawn hours.
In fact, you can view all five visible planets in the predawn/dawn sky from now until about February 20, 2016! The moon will be sweeping past all of these planets in the days ahead. Let the moon lead you to sure identifications of the planets.
Jupiter appears starlike to the eye, and the moon looks bigger than Jupiter. But, of course, Jupiter is much larger than the moon and only appears star-like to our eyes because it is so much farther away – over 1,700 times farther away than tonight’s moon. The moon lies about 1.35 light-seconds from Earth at present. In stark contrast, Jupiter looms about 39 light-minutes away.
If the giant planet Jupiter were at the same distance from us as our moon, it’d take about 40 moons lined up side by side to equal the diameter of Jupiter. More amazing, perhaps, Jupiter’s disk would exceed the lunar disk by some 1,600 times.
It’s with good reason that Jupiter enjoys the king planet status. Watch the moon and Jupiter shine together from early-to-mid evening until dawn!
By the way, if you’re interested, look back at our January 26 post to know why the moon and Jupiter are pairing up more closely tonight than they were last night.
Bottom line: Let the moon be your guide to Jupiter, the fifth planet outward from the sun and the king of the planets, on the night of January 27, 2016! Then watch in the early morning sky as the moon sweeps past the five planets now visible there