A shimmering sight awaits anyone who looks westward on July 8 or 9, as the waxing crescent moon rises almost in tandem with luminous Jupiter.
Compounding the excitement is the arrival of Juno, the probe that is set to study the solar system’s largest planet, famously known as a gas giant. Sky watchers won’t be able to see the satellite, of course, but the planet will be unmistakable, especially as it dances with the moon.
“While the probe is too small to pick out even with the best backyard telescopes, the planet will shine like a creamy-colored star that will be hard to miss,” said National Geographic. “Jupiter’s brightness is due in part to its size but also to the highly reflective clouds that blanket the planet.”
It’s also a good month to take a gander at Mars and Saturn, which both appear to the south.
Now is our fleeting chance to view this giant striped wonder (its visage through a telescope) before it edges too close to the sun’s light. Australia will get an especially stunning view on July 9.
“Enjoy Jupiter now, while the chance is at hand,” says Earthsky.org. “Day by day, Jupiter descends sunward, closer and closer to the glare of sunset. Jupiter will become lost in the sun’s glare by late August or early September.”
Even more exciting is that after their little dance, the moon will actually “occult”—that is, pass in front of—Jupiter this coming weekend, according to Universe Today. But you have to be in the Indian Ocean or Antarctica to see it. However, their proximity is visible worldwide, and those who do not happen to be in those remote locations for this occultation may catch a glimpse during one of the other three, Universe Today assures us.
“This is the first of four occultations of Jupiter by the Moon in 2016; the next occur over subsequent lunations on August 6, September 2 and 30 before the relative motions of the Moon and Jupiter carry them apart, not to meet again until October 31, 2019. And though most observers will miss this weekend’s occultation, we’ll all get a good view of the pairing worldwide.”