Celestial PhotoOp: The Moon slides in between Jupiter and Venus

By Phil Plait | March 24, 2012 4:10 pm

Over the next couple of nights, especially Sunday and Monday (March 25 and 26), a very thin crescent Moon will move in between the incredibly bright beacons of Venus and Jupiter in the west right after sunset.

Here’s a map of what it’ll look like on March 25 around 9:00 p.m. local time:

The green line along the bottom is the horizon. Jupiter will be about 15° above the horizon at that time (though the exact orientation will depend on your latitude), and Venus about 10° above it — that’s about the apparent size of your fist held at arm’s length. The Moon’s position will change hour by hour, so where it is depends on when you look! So these three will make an amazing, shifting trio over the course of a couple of days. And all you have to do is face west after sunset and take a look! Here’s more information with details about the triple-conjunction.

This makes for a fantastic photo opportunity, of course. It also presents a great opportunity to see both Venus and Jupiter in broad daylight. Both can be hard to spot on their own, but the crescent Moon is far easier. Be mindful not to look at the Sun! But if you can spot the Moon in the daylit sky Sunday and Monday, you might be able to see the tiny specks of the two planets nearby. You can read about how to do this here.

Related Posts:

See Venus in broad daylight today!
Galactic arch over the conjunction
Paradise above and below
Pic of pairs of planets and people
Juspiter and Venus still blaze in the west

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff
MORE ABOUT: Jupiter, Moon, Venus

Comments (28)

  1. I’ll be looking!

  2. Chris

    Is that an alien space ship at the top?

  3. Really, you have to add “Be mindful not to look at the Sun”? People that stupid don’t read your blog Phil!

  4. LoriBW

    I went outside a little while ago with my telescope and was able to get a really good look at Jupiter and four of its moons. Way cool.

  5. Is the moon photobombing the planets? ūüėÄ

  6. Trebuchet

    Absolutely lovely tonight (Saturday) with the moon below the two planets in a remarkably clear (it’s March in the Puget Sound country) sky! I may haul the telescope out tonight.

    ETA: I forgot to mention that my wife pointed out the moon to me last night, when it was even thinner. It took me about five minutes to see it, even when she told me exactly where to look. It was the newest moon I’ve ever seen .

  7. VinceRN

    The sky here (north of Seattle) has been great the last couple nights. Great for a little family star (planet really) party in the from yard. But, typical of this area, just when the sights in the sky are going to be at their best, we are expecting rain and complete cloud cover.

    Makes me want to kick the weather man.

  8. VinceRN

    @ #4 Catapult – That was a great moon last night. We had the telescope out and my daughter was amazed by looking at craters in that tiny sliver.

  9. MichaelL65

    Got a great shot of all 3 earlier (separately of course). When I downloaded the image of Jupiter, I was surprised to discover that my Canon Rebel with the telephoto kit lens was actually able to image not only Jupiter, but 3 of Jupiter’s Moons!

  10. I am not so sure that Jupiter or Venus is hard to see during the day, I find them often and even my five year old daughter can see them when I show her where to look. I don’t have exceptional eyesight, but I am pretty sure that I’ve even seen Jupiter’s moons, though not distinctly:

  11. SteveR

    I have always had a question and Phil maybe you can answer it…..if one were standing on Mars (which I hope humans do in my lifetime) and looking up at the night sky, would Jupiter appear as a disk to the naked eye or would it still be a point source, no doubt a bright one, like it is on Earth? Assume Jupiter and Mars are at their closest points in their orbits.

  12. @LoriBW (#6), you sure about that? There are people who deny climate change, evolution, and vaccines that comment here. If not “stupid” they are at lease severely deluded, and could need those kind of warnings! ūüėÄ

  13. Dragonchild

    When the moon is in the Seventh House
    And Jupiter aligns with. . . aw, crap.

  14. Here in the Costa del Sol, so named because the sun is always shining, its a rare overcast day today, so no chance of trying to get a picture of this, let alone see it :0(

  15. Was able to get some images of the trio tonight. Here is a pic of all three: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zamb0ni/7016479359/in/photostream

    I also have an animation of Jupiter and The Moon here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zamb0ni/7016479699/sizes/o/in/photostream/

    Finally I have a time lapse of most of my pics over at You Tube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RVwXyx1TFE

  16. Ian T

    Thanks Phil! Your post encouraged me to go out and take a look, two hours before sunset.

    the Moon itself was very hard to find, but eventually I caught a glimpse. An incredibly thin crescent and easy to lose. With the naked eye I couldn’t find Venus, so out with the binoculars and after a bit of searching, there it was! A real magical moment, this bright jewel shining in a sea of blue.

    Back to the naked eye and I still couldn’t find it, all I could see was squiggles and shapes formed by my own eyes. And then, suddenly, there it was! High up in the sky and with the sun still blazing in the west, I caught my first glimpse of Venus in the daytime. It was awe-inspiring. It was surprisingly bright with the naked eye, once you found it it was hard to lose.

    Jupiter was still elusive and I couldn’t see that with either method until the sun was almost below the horizon.

    Here in Britain we’re experiencing a heatwave right now with clear skies across the country – I urge everyone here to go outside and take a look! I used Google Sky Map on the phone to help me find the general region and it was a great help.

  17. Andrei

    @14 SteveR
    Using the minimum Sun-Jupiter and maximum Sun-Mars distances, you get an apparent Jupiter diameter of 8.15e-3 degrees, which is about 29 arcseconds… so it will look like Venus does here on Earth.
    If you consider the semi-major axes you’ll get around 26 arcseconds.
    What I find more interesting, is the apparent Earth diameter from Mars…which is again, about 28 arcseconds (best case with minimum Mars-Earth distances). So standing on Mars and looking at the sky, the new Venus will be Earth…..But due to the high eccentricity of Mars’ orbit, using the semi-major axes you’ll have only 17 arcseconds and for the worst case, you’ll have only 13 arcseconds. And of course, since this corresponds to a New Earth, you won’t actually see Earth as it will be just like Venus, only a small crescent or a faint ring caused by the atmosphere refraction

  18. mike burkhart

    Wow I saw this last night this is a once in a lifetime thhing .That thing at the top looks like a King from a Chess set (Yea I play chess but the most hardest opponet is a computer as Frank Pool discovers in 2001) Off topic and getting me angry: A school in New York has baned any disscusion of Dinosaurs. Reson it would offend fundamentlist Christans ( funny because they do beleve in dinosaurs but think they walked the Earth at the same time as Humans) Whats next? we cant tlk about Trilobites witch lived long before dinosaaurs ? Or ban Godzilla movies ? Or we can’t say the words Big Bang? When is this nonsence going to end???????

  19. Here’s what it looked like from Spain. http://flic.kr/p/bsZFdN

  20. Shash

    I rushed home to catch this – Jupiter was just about setting…


    Apologies for the noise – Jupiter was too faint that close to the horizon (I live in rather light-polluted surroundings) so I upped the ISO rather high.

  21. It was so visible last night that I managed to get picture clearly showing all three using my cell phone. Really beautiful.

  22. Andrei

    Again at SteveR
    The closest to a disk for a solars system planet you can get on Mercury when looking at Venus. For best viewing situation, the apparent diameter of Venus is about 33 arcseconds (assume that the Sun, Venus and Mercury are on the same line when Venus is at perihelion and Mercury at aphelion). On any other planet in the solar system, all of the other planets will be point-like.
    Only the minor planets have two distinct disk objects on their sky – the Sun and Jupiter. From Ceres with Ceres at aphelion and Jupiter at perihelion, Jupiter would be around 49 arcseconds

  23. Nick L

    And now for something completely different: A picture of a planet taken at 2 in the afternoon. (I took it yesterday using my 7MP digital camera with Venus in the upper left corner)


  24. Jay Fox

    Rain in NorCal. Wahhhhh!


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