Alignment of Venus & Jupiter - to be joined by the Moon on 12/1/2008!

The position of Earth in its orbit around the Sun, combined with the orbits of Venus and Jupiter in their orbits makes for a beautiful pairing of bright planets in our southwest sky just after sunset.  To add to this pairing, the crescent Moon will join Venus and Jupiter making a close threesome on the evening of 12/1/2008.  Venus and Jupiter wil be closest to each other on Monday December 1 at exactly 3:38:26AM (EST) when they'll be separated by 2.0137.  Unfortunately, at that time the pair will be 71 below our northeast horizon and won't rise until 10:45AM (EST) when it will already be daylight.  By the time it's dark, the pair will have moved 2.09 apart.  Adding to the unfortunate timing, the unlit side of the crescent Moon will occult Venus at 8:53:26AM (EST) Monday morning when the pair are still 20 below our east-southeast horizon.  Venus will reappear from the lit side of the Moon at 9:59:37AM (EST) when still 9 below the horizon.

Here's what this alignment will look like for the next few nights from Stow, OH...


Saturday November 29, 2008 at 5:45PM (EST)
Venus and Jupiter separated by 2.44
Yellow circle around Jupiter/Venus shows 5 field of view in average binoculars
Notice the Moon (Luna) near the bottom right of the picture
(Note: blue line at bottom of graphic represents the local horizon)


Sunday November 30, 2008 at 5:45PM (EST)
Venus and Jupiter separated by 2.06
Yellow circle around Jupiter/Venus shows 5 field of view in average binoculars
Notice how far the Moon (Luna) has moved toward Venus/Jupiter since last night
(Note: blue line at bottom of graphic represents the local horizon)


Monday December 1, 2008 at 5:45PM (EST)
Venus and Jupiter separated by 2.09
Yellow circle around Jupiter/Venus shows 5 field of view in average binoculars
Notice how far the Moon (Luna) has moved to join Venus/Jupiter in a single night
(Note: blue line at bottom of graphic represents the local horizon)


Monday December 1, 2008 at 5:45PM (EST)
Venus and Jupiter separated by 2.09
Close-up of the triple and how it would have appeared in average binoculars, if
our weather had been clear.


Tuesday December 2, 2008 at 5:45PM (EST)
Venus and Jupiter separated by 2.53
Yellow circle around Jupiter/Venus shows 5 field of view in average binoculars
Notice how far the Moon (Luna) has moved away from Venus & Jupiter
Still a beautiful pair of planets, but the Moon is now out of the binocular field


Wednesday December 3, 2008 at 5:45PM (EST)
Venus and Jupiter separated by 3.21
Yellow circle around Jupiter/Venus shows 5 field of view in average binoculars
Still a beautiful pair of planets, but the Moon is now far out of the binocular field
(Note: blue line at bottom of graphic represents the local horizon)


Thursday December 4, 2008 at 5:45PM (EST)
Venus and Jupiter separated by 4.01
Yellow circle around Jupiter/Venus shows 5 field of view in average binoculars
Still a beautiful pair of planets, but the Moon is now far out of the binocular field
(Note: blue line at bottom of graphic represents the local horizon)



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