On May 17, 2023, observers in areas that included northern Central America, northern Caribbean, most of North America, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, northern British Isles, Scandinavia and northwest Russia enjoyed an unusual sight. Bright Jupiter and the waning crescent moon were extremely close together. And, for some, the moon occulted (passed in front of) Jupiter. Even though in most areas the occulation occurred in morning twilight or daylight, we received many wonderful photos. So, here are some of our favorite photos of the event from the EarthSky community.
Photos as the moon occults Jupiter
EarthSky Community members snagged photos of the moments leading up to the occultation, with Jupiter near the lit limb of the crescent moon.
More images of the moon and Jupiter from EarthSky Community Photos
Later, the bright point of Jupiter emerged from under the darkened portion of the moon around the one o’clock position.
The moon and Jupiter on May 17
On the morning of May 17, 2023, the waning crescent moon was near Jupiter. And, for some, the moon occulted – covered – the gas giant planet.
Astronomers call this event an occultation. That is when one object in space passes in front of another. For example, in this case, the moon occulted Jupiter. Indeed, you could even say that the moon eclipsed Jupiter.
At the time, the thin waning crescent moon was only 5% illuminated when it occulted Jupiter. In addition, most places saw the occultation in daylight. Those further west in the areas of visibility saw the occultation occur near or before the sun rose. So, if your location was still dark, you could see Jupiter with the unaided eye as it got closer to the moon. However, they were certainly difficult to see in the morning twilight or daylight without optical aid.
Marcy Curran has enjoyed star gazing since she was a young girl going on family camping trips under the dark skies of Wyoming. She bought her first telescope in time to see Halley’s comet in 1985 on its way in to another close encounter with the sun. Her passion for astronomy eventually led her to being a co-founder of a local astronomical society. Marcy remains active in her astronomy club including being the editor of a monthly newsletter. She also contributes a monthly article to her local newspaper focusing on the stars, planets and objects currently visible in the nighttime sky. Marcy taught astronomy at her local community college for over 20 years. Marcy retired in December 2021 and is delighted to join Earthsky.org as an editor of night sky articles. Her hobbies - other than star gazing - include reading, knitting, jigsaw puzzles and photography. Marcy and her husband live in Wyoming.
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