Pix of the Moon eating Jupiter, Lunar Flashlight switched off
I got photos of the Jupiter occultation, and a lunar mission to map ice didn’t quite make it
May 18, 2023 Issue #566
Pic o’ the Letter
A cool or lovely or mind-bending astronomical image/video with a description so you can grok it
Well, to my surprise, the weather gods smiled upon me! Despite what I wrote in Tuesday’s issue, the skies cleared Tuesday night, so I set my alarm for 5:15 a.m. to give me time to go out and watch the Moon occult Jupiter.
I grabbed my Celestron Ultima 80 spotting ‘scope (usually in my bedroom so I can bird watch out my window) and my phone, and set it up outside my front door. The Sun wasn’t up quite yet but the sky was very bright pre-dawn. The very thin crescent Moon was easy to see very low to the east, but Jupiter was already so close to it I couldn’t see it well by eye.
Here’s my first view through the ‘scope, still a few minutes before contact:
Neat! I continued to watch as the two drew closer. Unfortunately the sky was already too bright to see any of Jupiter’s moons, two of which were on the side of the planet facing the Moon so they got eclipsed first. Still, it was fun see the Moon and the planet get closer and closer AND CLOSER, and then around 05:30 the edge of the Moon slid over Jupiter.
WOW! After this shot I put the phone away and just watched through the ‘scope. It took about a full minute for the Moon to fully cover the disk of Jupiter, and it was amazing to watch. The birds were chirping madly around me, and the cool morning air was delightful to feel as I stood there watching the dance of the heavens.
And then Jupiter was gone. It was over. I packed up, went inside, put a few pix up on Instagram and Blue Sky, and then took a nap for an hour.
I’d never seen the Moon occult Jupiter before. I caught last year’s Mars occultation, and I’ve seen it with Venus a couple of times now. I’ve also seen the Moon and Uranus close together (during a lunar eclipse!) but no occultation there. Still, these kinds of events are always wonderful to watch, a delight for the eye and brain.
The sky is always a fantastic thing to go and see if you can, but it’s extra special when something spices up the view.
The next occultation visible will be Venus blocked by the Moon on November 9th, visible from Europe. From the US they’ll be roughly a half-degree apart (the size of the Moon on the sky), so if you want to get up before sunrise to see it’ll still be pretty!
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