Observing

See the waning Moon meet Jupiter and Saturn at dawn, 27–29 March

25 March 2019 Ade Ashford

For lunar and planetary enthusiasts, the only naked-eye planet of the evening sky is distant and tiny Mars in the constellation of Taurus. But if you’re prepared to be an early riser, the dawn sky is where you’ll find two of the solar system’s heavyweights, Jupiter and Saturn, getting up close with the Moon on 27 and 29 March, respectively.

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Dramatic Jupiter

26 February 2019 Astronomy Now

Dramatic atmospheric features in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere are captured in this view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Observing

See a dawn triple conjunction and a lunar occultation on 31 January

22 January 2019 Ade Ashford

Skywatchers in the UK and Western Europe should look low to the south-southeast an hour before sunrise on 31 January to see a beautiful naked-eye conjunction of Venus, the old crescent Moon and Jupiter, all within a span of 8½ degrees. But if you have a telescope and live in just the right place, you can also see the Moon hide a double star.

Observing

Venus dazzles at dawn, farthest west of the Sun on 6 January 2019

5 January 2019 Ade Ashford

Brilliant planet Venus attains its greatest elongation almost 47° west of the Sun at dawn in the UK on Sunday, 6 January. Find a location that offers you a view down to the southeast horizon around 7am GMT and you may catch a glimpse of Jupiter too. The planetary duo is currently 14 degrees apart, but drawing nearer for a close conjunction on 22 January.

Observing

See the old Moon close to Venus then Jupiter in the dawn sky

28 December 2018 Ade Ashford

Early risers in the UK with an unobstructed horizon from southeast through south can see the old crescent Moon close to dazzling Venus in Libra then Jupiter in Ophiuchus over three consecutive mornings starting New Year’s Day around 7am GMT. The brightest and largest planets lie little more than the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s length apart at this time.

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Juno images Io rising over the immense limb of Jupiter

18 November 2018 Astronomy Now

Last week, we posted a dramatic view of Jupiter’s churning clouds as recently seen by NASA’s Juno orbiter. Here is another mesmerising JunoCam view of the solar system’s largest planet with the volcanically tortured moon Io rising above the horizon in the black of space.

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Jupiter probe captures intriguing look at a ‘brown barge’

16 September 2018 Astronomy Now

Extended oval storms known as “brown barges” are occasionally seen in Jupiter’s North and South Equatorial Belts, but they tend to blend into the surrounding area and are difficult to spot. NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently captured a clear view of a brown barge in the southern belt.