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See the moon near Jupiter and Saturn in the predawn sky Tuesday

The moon will make a close approach to Jupiter and Saturn in the predawn sky on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.  (Image credit: SkySafari)

Early-bird skywatchers have a chance to can see the moon swing by two bright planets in the predawn sky on Tuesday (May 12).

The waning, gibbous moon will meet up with the planets Jupiter and Saturn, and you can catch the celestial trio above the southern horizon just before they fade into the daylight.

Over the course of the next few days, the moon will scoot eastward in the morning sky. On Tuesday, it will be in the constellation of Sagittarius (the archer), along with Jupiter. By Wednesday, it will be in the constellation Capricornus (the sea goat), where Saturn is currently located, and by Friday morning the moon will be snuggling up to Mars in the constellation Aquarius (the water bearer).

Related: The brightest planets in May's night sky: How to see them

Jupiter will be in conjunction with the moon, meaning they share the same celestial longitude, on Tuesday at 5:41 a.m. EDT (0941 GMT) — at the exact time that the sun will rise over New York City, according to the skywatching website In-The-Sky.org. The moon will be 2.25 degrees to the south of Jupiter at that time. (For reference, your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees wide.)

Saturn will also be in conjunction with the moon that same day, but not until 2:11 p.m. EDT (1811 GMT), when daylight will hamper the view of the ringed planet. Although Saturn will not be visible at the time of its closest approach, it will appear almost as close to the moon on the morning of the encounter. When they are at their closest, the moon will be 2.6 degrees to the south of Saturn. 

If you're more of a night owl than a morning person, you can also catch the trio together after midnight. For example, Jupiter rises over New York City at 12:44 a.m. local time on Tuesday (May 12), followed by Saturn 16 minutes later, according to timeanddate.com. Jupiter sets again at 5:30 a.m., followed by Saturn at 5:50 a.m. local time. The moon rises over New York City at 12:48 a.m. and sets again at 10:15 a.m. local time.

In the southeastern sky on Friday morning, May 15 between about 4 a.m. local time and sunrise, the crescent moon will appear three finger widths to the lower left (or 3.25 degrees to the celestial southeast) of reddish Mars. Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune will share the sky with Mars and the moon, but dim and distant Neptune will not be visible without a telescope. The morning meet-up will offer another fine photo opportunity featuring the moon and bright planets. (Image credit: Starry Night)

Mars is also visible in the morning sky this week, and it will have its own close encounter with the moon on Thursday night. The Red Planet will be in conjunction with the moon on Thursday (May 14) at 10:02 p.m. EDT (0202 GMT on May 15). It will rise that morning over New York City at 2:18 a.m. local time and will still be in the sky by the time dawn breaks. 

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, you can send images and comments to spacephotos@space.com.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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  • Lovethrust
    Saturn was washed out pretty bad from the Moon’s glare but the Moon and Jupiter made a comely pair!
    Reply
  • Wolfshadw
    Just looked for myself as well. Wish I had a decent telescope!

    -Wolf sends

    Edit: Also wish it warmer than just 34° F out right now!
    Reply
  • rod
    FYI. I was out in MD from 0515 until 0600 EDT. I used by 10x50 binoculars and could fit Jupiter, Ganymede and Europa moons visible into the FOV along with the waning gibbous Moon and those craters along the terminator line like Tycho fun view. Sky clear and temperature 5C for my location. It was a lovely sight along the ecliptic early. Mars and Iota Aquarii star about 31' angular separation. Jupiter and the Moon about 2-degrees apart or so. And yes, I looked for comet Swan C/2020 F8, low in east sky in Pisces. However at 0516 EDT, the skyline in east bright so a comet near 5th/6th magnitude not visible plus some clouds off in the distance above the horizon too. The comet was up near 10 degrees elevation or altitude. Glad to see some folks were out early and got a view here :)
    Reply
  • rod
    FYI, sunrise for me near 0557 EDT this morning. At 0515, no problem seeing Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and the Moon. The Moon apparent magnitude -12.0, Jupiter -2.43. The Moon about 6733x brighter than Jupiter along the ecliptic :)
    Reply