Monday, January 21, 2013

Lunar Companion...

Tonight the moon is just over half full, and as I walked the dogs (6:15 pm local time) it was nearly straight overhead and shining bright in a clear sky.  I glanced up at it while I was walking, and noted that there is a bright star quite close to the moon – less than one lunar diameter away, towards the northeast.  A star that appeared that bright, that close to a bright moon, almost surely was a planet.

So when I brought the dogs in, I grabbed our binoculars and walked back outside to check.  Sure enough, that's Jupiter shining brightly so close to the moon.  I couldn't see any surface features in the binoculars, but I could make out three moons of Jupiter, all in a row (from my perspective) – a giveaway that it is Jupiter.

I'm surprised this conjunction wasn't mentioned on any of the web sites I frequent.  I can't remember a closer conjunction between those two bodies.  With a little googling, I found this press release:
Slooh Space Camera to Broadcast Live Feeds of Super Close Moon / Jupiter Conjunction

On Monday, January 21st, the Moon will appear amazingly close in the sky to the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. The Waxing Gibbous Moon - the lunar phase between first quarter Moon and a full Moon - will be approximately one degree south of Jupiter appearing to be only a pen width apart. This will be closest conjunction between the two celestial bodies until 2026.

Slooh Space Camera will cover the event live on, free to the public, Monday, January 21st at 6:00 PM PST / 9:00 PM EST / 02:00 UTC (1/22) - International times here: - accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh President, Patrick Paolucci, Astronomy Magazine columnist, Bob Berman, and astro-imager Matt Francis of the Prescott Observatory. Viewers can watch live on their PC or IOS/Android mobile device at t-minus zero.

By good fortune, the Great Red Spot will be traveling across the middle of Jupiter's disk during Slooh's live broadcast.

If skies are clear, individuals can view the conjunction by looking at the Moon and finding the brightest star in the sky next to the Moon, which will be Jupiter. Individuals with binoculars or telescope may capture more detail of Jupiter, including some of the satellites.
Looks like I caught it perfectly, even if by accident!

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