Have you been enjoying the crescent moon this week? It’s a bit bigger each night, as it moves away from its monthly passage between earth and the sun.
A week or so ago, early risers were treated to a crescent just about this same size, as the moon approached the sun from the other side – it was to the right of the sun as we see it in the sky here in the northern hemisphere, whereas now it’s to the left of the sun.
I missed the show, but those who woke a couple hours before dawn got to see the moon join a lineup of celestial delights: the Pleiades, Venus, Jupiter, and Betelgeuse (one of Orion’s shoulders).
For those in Europe, though, the morning held a special treat: the moon passed directly in front of Jupiter (an “occulation”). That peaceful ol’ moon moves fast through the starry sky: just about its own diameter each hour, constantly sliding past stars and planets along its way. Just a few minutes after it zoomed by Jupiter, Christian Fattinnanzi caught an absolutely beautiful dance of five moons, a gas giant, and wispy clouds:
Here we see Jupiter and all four Galilean moons (the ones Galileo spotted with his telescope, and visible similarly to his view in any pair of modern binoculars): Calisto, Ganymede, Io, and Europa. Lovely!