The Moon Shines with Jupiter and Saturn
Stargazers, here are some of the moon doings to witness this week.
This is the week of the lunar month when our natural satellite, fresh from the May full moon, will wane and rise later, eventually arriving at its Last Quarter phase next Sunday after mid-day. By that time, the moon will have set in the west for us in the Eastern Time zone. Last Quarter moons always rise near midnight and linger into the daytime morning western sky.
The Moon will be visiting the two largest gas giants of our Solar system this week. On Monday evening, May 20, into Tuesday morning, May 21, the bright planet Jupiter will appear to the right of the waning gibbous Moon. As the pair crosses the sky together, the moon’s orbital motion will carry it farther away from Jupiter. You can watch both of them until Jupiter fades from view just before sunrise. At that time, they will be positioned over the southwestern horizon.
The moon will also dance with Saturn this week. When the moon rises from the southeastern horizon after 1:30 am local time on Thursday, it will be positioned 4 finger widths to the lower left (east) of yellowish Saturn. As before, the moon’s orbital motion will carry it noticeably farther from Saturn over the following hours. They will remain visible until about 5 am local time, when they will sit in the southern sky. Hours earlier, observers in the southern tip of Africa, parts of eastern Antarctica, Kerguelen Islands, most of Australia, and southern New Zealand will get to see the moon pass in front of (or occult) the Ringed Planet.
Clear skies and happy hunting!