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Close pairing of moon and Jupiter on January 14

Close pairing of moon and Jupiter on January 14 Read more

Tonight for January 14, 2014

The moon and Jupiter come out first thing at dusk. As dusk deepens into night, watch for the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux, to pop out close to the moon and Jupiter.

The moon and Jupiter come out first thing at dusk. As dusk deepens into night, watch for the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux, to pop out close to the moon and Jupiter.

Photo of Jupiter taken by Cassini-Huygens spacecraft. Dark spot on Jupiter is the shadow cast by Jupiter's moon Europa, which is just a touch smaller in size than Earth's moon. Image via NASA.

From around the world on the evening of January 14, 2014, the waxing gibbous moon will shine close to the giant planet Jupiter. Don’t miss these two bright beauties on this night! And indeed you can’t miss them. They are the brightest heavenly bodies in Tuesday’s night sky.

Jupiter looks starlike to the eye, and the moon looks bigger than Jupiter. But, of course, Jupiter is much bigger than the moon and only appears starlike to our eyes because it is so much farther away – nearly 1,600 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 35 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 nearly all night long!

By the way, if you’re interested, look back at our January 13 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 14, 2014!

2014′s smallest full moon on January 15-16. Jupiter nearby.

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