Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
Tonight the moon rises around midnight (daylight saving time). It is slightly gibbous, just a day before first-quarter phase. Brilliant Jupiter soon joins it above the eastern horizon.
From mid-northern latitudes, by the time the short, summer night brightens into morning twilight the King of Planets climbs about halfway up the sky in the southeast. Observers in the southern hemisphere, who are enjoying their long, winter nights, can watch the duo reach the meridian – the imaginary line of “celestial longitude” that connects north to south and passes directly overhead through the zenith.
When you step out to enjoy the scene, bring your binoculars. Uranus list just 2 degrees away from Jupiter. Modest binoculars will show the two planets within the same field of view. At magnitude -2½, Jupiter will be obvious. If you have keen eyesight and a steady hand, you may even see one or more of its moons right next to it. Uranus will appear as a 6th-magnitude bluish “star” to Jupiter’s upper right, as viewed from mid-northern latitudes. The planets were closest to each other in early June (and will pass each other again in September).