Jupiter and Saturn form a triangle with the moon tonight. Here's how to see it.

Jupiter, Saturn and the crescent moon will form a triangle in the night sky overnight on June 8-9, 2020. The trio will rise in the southeast shortly before midnight and fade from view when dawn breaks. This sky map shows their positions as seen from New York City at 1:30 a.m. local time on June 9.  (Image credit: SkySafari app)

For a spectacular night-sky sight you can enjoy while social distancing, look up late tonight (June 8) and early tomorrow morning to see Jupiter and Saturn form a triangle with Earth's moon.

The waning, gibbous moon was in conjunction with Jupiter (opens in new tab) — meaning they shared the same celestial longitude — today at 1:21 p.m. EDT (1721 GMT). It will swing by Saturn (opens in new tab) just nine hours later, reaching conjunction with the ringed planet at 10:12 p.m. EDT (0212 GMT on Tuesday, June 9). 

The trio will rise into the evening sky just before midnight, and you can see them together all night long until they fade into the morning twilight. To find the three celestial bodies, turn to the south and look for the moon (opens in new tab), which will guide you to the bright planets nearby. Jupiter will be to the west (right) of the moon, and Saturn will be centered above the two. 

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Give your eyes about 20 minutes to get adjusted to the darkness, and if you must use a sky chart or your phone, make sure to use red light filters to keep your eyes from getting too badly affected by light (washing out your view of the night sky).

The Jupiter-moon conjunction will take place in the constellation Sagittarius (opens in new tab). The moon will be at roughly magnitude -12.5, while Jupiter will be at about magnitude -2.6, according to In-The-Sky.org (opens in new tab). The brightest stars visible with the naked eye are typically around magnitude (opens in new tab) 5 or 6, by comparison, so these bright objects should be easy to spot even in light-polluted areas.

If you're lucky enough to have a telescope (opens in new tab), Jupiter and the moon will be too far apart to fit in a single field of view. But the pair will be visible in a pair of binoculars (opens in new tab).

Later in the evening, the moon and Saturn will be in the constellation Capricornus (opens in new tab). The moon will remain at magnitude -12.5, according to In-The-Sky.org (opens in new tab), while Saturn will be at magnitude 0.2 — still highly visible in the night sky. Just like with the moon and Jupiter, the two celestial bodies will be too far apart for a single telescopic view. But they'll fit just fine in a pair of binoculars. 

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo or video that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com (opens in new tab)

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace

  • Uh, is there ever a time when these three points don't form a triangle?
  • rod
    FYI, yes tomorrow morning near 0400 EDT. The Moon has moved farther eastward near the ecliptic while Saturn and Jupiter are moving retrograde. You can see these changes using Stellarium 0.20.1 or Starry Night Pro Plus 8, or SkySafari software. Each early morning now after 8-9 of June, the waning Moon moves farther and farther away from Saturn and Jupiter and these planets are slowly changing their positions too. New Moon is 21-June.
  • Kind of sad that people no longer know what "triangle" means...
  • my take-away is that the rest of the time the moon, Jupiter and Saturn are in perfect 3-dimensional linear alignment and only last night did they break line and form a triangle.
  • rod
    FYI. The configuration of Mars, waning gibbous Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter this morning was very different than what space.com report shows for 8-9 June sky charts. The Moon and planets have their own ecliptic latitude and longitude coordinates, these change as well as their celestial coordinates on the sky, so different configurations appear as viewed by us folks here on Earth :). The triangle shape visible that space.com reported for 08-09 June, was very different this morning when looking at the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter. The software I mentioned shows all of these changes and I use for observing. I was out this morning 0450-0530 EDT. Sunrise near 0541 EDT. Some very good views of Mars, waning gibbous Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter using my 90-mm refractor telescope at 179x. No planetary or moon filters used. Jupiter's Great Red Spot distinct as it crossed the central meridian of Jupiter near 0534 EDT. Jupiter transits my location near 0343 EDT now. Jupiter is best viewed near transit and currently 0300 or so time slot :). Mars is close to 10" (arcsecond) angular size showing more surface detail and south polar cap very visible, orange-red color. Saturn is always a great view with rings, cloud bands, and Cassini division visible. An enjoyable time early this morning along the ecliptic. Later 0730-0800 EDT, I enjoyed some views of sunspot AR2765. Good views of sunspot AR2765 using glass, white light-solar filter. No other filters used. Easy to see the sunspot and some plage around it. Still a bit larger than Earth size. I estimate viewing at 31x, >=17" angular size based upon the Sun's distance today and Earth's diameter.

    If folks regularly observe the night sky and early morning sky, lunar and planetary configurations change throughout the year along with the constellations. Observing can be very enjoyable, unaided eyes, binocular views, and telescope views (better for the Moon, planets, and star clusters, etc.).
  • Lovethrust
    Eric said:
    Uh, is there ever a time when these three points don't form a triangle?
    When they are in a line?