Jupiter, the Moon, Aldebaran, an Eclipse and the ISS? It’s Not Too Late to See it All

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After last night’s show I want to say, “How could you miss it?” but I’m sure many did. I’ll be willing to bet though, many more looked up in the sky and wondered, “What am I looking at?” because not only was it an amazing site, it was an obvious one, too. And though the peak of the full moon was last night, the show isn’t quite over.

Though everything peaked last night, if you have a clear view of the eastern horizon tonight, the moon, Jupiter and Aldebaran will still be visible.

Like last night, here’s what’s happening tonight: The nearly full moon will be in penumbral eclipse. The red giant star Aldebaran and Jupiter will be visible. Additionally,  Jupiter’s Galilean moons may be visible. Want more? The conjunction of Venus and Saturn will be visible, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to view. And if that’s still not enough, there’s an opportunity to view the International Space Station as it slips quickly across the sky.

The penumbral eclipse will only slightly darken the moon’s surface, not totally darken it. Click for larger size. Image: NASA

What to do: As the moon rises on the eastern horizon tonight, look to its right for Aldebaran. Also to the right of the moon, look for Jupiter, and you may still be able to see a couple of Jupiter’s Galilean moons. Though the moon won’t be completely full tonight, that works to our advantage: slightly less light to obscure the other bodies. Additionally, the penumbral eclipse of the moon only means it will be on the fringe of the Earth’s shadow from the sun — not totally obscured. This should serve to slightly darken the surface of the moon for even less reflected light. The moon will be dimmer still as it is in the apogee phase of its orbit, meaning its farthest away from Earth and as small as it can be in our sky (when compared to its closest approach, that’s a difference of about 30,000 miles ). This will also help the other planets to shine more brightly. Then, after a good night’s sleep, check out the early morning eastern sky tomorrow for a view of both Venus and Saturn in conjunction.

And finally, check out the link above (or here) for when to view the International Space Station because it passes overhead more often than you think. For instance, it passed over my head just twenty minutes ago (invisible in the bright sunshine), but the Northeast will have a quick glimpse early tomorrow morning, low on the eastern horizon if their partly cloudy skies break in the right place at the right time. Could a photo of the conjunction and the ISS be possible? (Let us know if you capture that yourself and we’ll share it here.)

In addition to our own moon, two of Jupiter’s Galilean moons are easily visible in this great photo from last night. Click to enlarge. Photo. S. Hoggard at Examiner.com

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