See the final first quarter moon of 2022 join Jupiter in the sky tonight (Dec. 29)

An illustration of the night sky on Dec. 29 showing the moon in close proximity to Jupiter.
An illustration of the night sky on Dec. 29 showing the moon in close proximity to Jupiter. (Image credit: Starry Night Education)

On Thursday evening (Dec. 29), the moon will reach its first quarter phase; this will be the last time the moon reaches one of its four major phases in 2022. 

Since the new moon on Dec. 23, the lunar surface has gradually been becoming more illuminated, and tonight, it'll appear to be half-lit. The next phase of the moon will be the full moon, which will occur on Jan. 6, 2023. 

The final first quarter moon will be joined by a special guest tonight: Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet. Both will be visible in the southern skies in the constellation Pisces and should be close enough together to see with a pair of binoculars (though will be too far apart to see with a telescope). Jupiter and the moon will be in conjunction, meaning they share the same right ascension, the celestial equivalent of longitude.

Related: The Christmas night sky 2022: The planets pay a holiday visit

TOP TELESCOPE PICK

A Celestron telescope on a white background

(Image credit: Celestron)

Want to get a closer look at the moon or Jupiter? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 (opens in new tab) as the top pick in our best beginner's telescope guide. Don't forget a moon filter if you'll be looking up at our celestial companion.

Though the first quarter moon will rise around noon, it'll become most prominent after dusk, when the sky reaches darkness. In New York City, darkness arrives at 4:55 p.m. EST (2155 GMT), when the moon will be 47 degrees above the southeastern horizon. (You can estimate degrees above the horizon using your fist — when you hold your fist out at arm's length, the size of your fist will roughly equate to 10 degrees). The moon will continue rising to 49 degrees, its highest point in the sky, which it will reach at 5:56 pm EST (2256). The moon will remain visible for several more hours, setting around midnight.

At the same time, the moon and Jupiter will reach conjunction, the point where they share the same right ascension. They'll also appear to be at their closest point together in the night sky, called an appulse. Look for Jupiter to the northwest of the moon — the two celestial bodies will be separated by 2 degrees and 18 minutes. 

Want to photograph this phase of the moon with Jupiter nearby? Take a scroll through our guides for the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography, which are helpful for both novices and pros. Then check out our guide explaining how to photograph the moon, which provides helpful tips to up your lunar photography game. And if photography isn't your jam, that's all right — you can simply enjoy skywatching via the best binoculars and the best telescopes

Editor's note: If you snap a photo of Jupiter near the first quarter moon and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com.

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Stefanie Waldek
Contributing writer

Space.com contributing writer Stefanie Waldek is a self-taught space nerd and aviation geek who is passionate about all things spaceflight and astronomy. With a background in travel and design journalism, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University, she specializes in the budding space tourism industry and Earth-based astrotourism. In her free time, you can find her watching rocket launches or looking up at the stars, wondering what is out there. Learn more about her work at www.stefaniewaldek.com (opens in new tab).

  • rod
    "At the same time, the moon and Jupiter will reach conjunction, the point where they share the same right ascension. They'll also appear to be at their closest point together in the night sky, called an appulse. Look for Jupiter to the northwest of the moon — the two celestial bodies will be separated by 2 degrees and 18 minutes."

    Weather at my location for tonight looks good so I plan to go out and view Jupiter and the Moon using my 90-mm refractor telescope. Too far apart to see both but easy to change altitude and azimuth back and forth using the Telrad to quickly target and enjoy views of both.
    Reply
  • MikeCollinsJr
    When will see the mw on TV?
    Reply
  • rod
    mw on TV I am not familiar with. However, I can see the nearly First Quarter Moon in the sky now so if clouds remain free in my area as forecast, I should enjoy some excellent lunar observations using my 90-mm refractor telescope this evening.
    Reply
  • rod
    Some good viewing tonight. There is much to see, in our solar system, and beyond 😊--Rod

    Observed 1815-1930 EST/2315-0030 UT. First Quarter Moon 30-Dec-2022 0121 UT or 2021 EST 29-Dec-2022. I enjoyed some excellent time under the sky tonight. I viewed 25x, 71x, and 129x observations using my 90-mm refractor telescope. TeleVue 40-mm plossl eyepiece, TeleVue 14-mm Delos, and TeleVue 1.8x Barlow lens along with Moon filter, #58 green filter (Jupiter and the Moon), and #23A red filter for Mars. M42 and M45 lovely at 25x and 4 stars in the Trapezium distinct along with the large arc of nebulosity visible. About 1830 EST, a polar orbiting satellite moved south, just passing Jupiter's position. I estimated the apparent magnitude 1.0, it was bright but not as bright as Jupiter. The Sky & Telescope Jupiter and Mars tool worked well. At Jupiter using 71x with green filter, I could see cloud belts, the northern region shaded and some in the south polar area too. 3 Galilean moons on the right side (mirror reverse view) and one on the left side. The Great Red Spot was visible but small at 71x. The GRS transited Jupiter central meridian near 2239 UT according to the December issue of Sky & Telescope, so visible when I looked. The Mars profiler tool showed the central meridian at Mars at 1815 EST or 2315 UT, 321 degrees. Syrtis Major distinct on Mars at 129x using red filter. Mars angular size about 14.9 arcsecond. Jupiter angular size about 39.59 arcseconds. The Virtual Moon Atlas showed the lunar diameter 31.92 arcminute. I did like the green filter view of the First Quarter Moon, that is fun. Very good crater relief and details visible along the terminator line at 71x. You can use Sabine crater, Moltke, and Maskelyne crater to form a triangle and zero in on Apollo 11 landing area. Armstrong crater is there, Aldrin, and Collins. They take high power to see though, usually near 200x for my telescope. When I went out to observe, the Moon and Jupiter a bit more than 6-degrees angular separation in the sky according to Stellarium 1.2. Skies clear, temperature 4C tonight.
    Reply