On Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, the moon will share the same right ascension with Jupiter in an astronomical arrangement called a conjunction. The over-half-illuminated 10-day-old moon will appear just two degrees to the south of the solar system's largest planet.
At the same time, the moon and Jupiter will be in the constellation of Pisces and will also make an appulse — the term astronomers use to describe a close approach between two objects in the sky as perceived by observers on Earth.
The arrangement between the two will begin at around 16:23 EDT (2023 GMT) becoming visible over the sky of New York City in the evening at around 18:06 EDT (2206 GMT) as the sky darkens, according to InTheSky.org. (opens in new tab)
First appearing at 22 degrees over the horizon in the southeast, the moon/Jupiter conjunction will reach its highest point — 47 degrees above the southern horizon — at 21:58 EDT. The moon and Jupiter will continue to be visible until around 3:09 a.m. on Saturday (Nov. 5) when they drop below seven degrees above the horizon in the west. (Your fist at arm's length corresponds to roughly ten degrees in the sky.)
During the conjunction, the moon will have a magnitude of -12.5, and Jupiter will have a magnitude of -2.8, with the minus prefix indicating particularly bright objects in the sky over Earth.
The conjunction will be visible with the naked eye or binoculars from areas with dark and clear skies. The close pairing of the moon and Jupiter is still too far apart to be viewed with a telescope, however.
Even though the moon and Jupiter will appear close together in the night sky, they will remain separated by vast distances in the solar system. The fifth planet from the sun, Jupiter is still 365 million miles (588 million kilometers) from Earth at its closest and at its farthest, the gas giant lies 601 million miles (968 million km) away.
Because of this great distance, the visibility of the moon and Jupiter isn't indicative of their true sizes. Despite being dimmer, the gas-giant planet massively dwarfs the moon. To illustrate this, it would take 50 moons to fill the volume of Earth, but it would take around 1,300 Earths to fill the volume of Jupiter. That means that it would take as many as 65,000 moons to fill the volume of the gas giant.
NASA adds that if Earth was the size of a grape, the moon would be the size of a garden pea would be as large as a basketball.
As well as being the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter also dominates the solar system in terms of mass. Even though it is comprised of dense gas the mass of Jupiter is estimated to be at least twice that of all the other planets that orbit the sun combined.
The next major astronomical event for Jupiter occurs on Saturday, Dec. 7, when it lies opposite the sun in the sky, an arrangement called opposition.
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