Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon will form a triangle in the sky tonight

 JupVenMoon2

Tonight marks an interesting alignment of two bright planets in the sky with our moon.  Through the rest of June you can look up and see Jupiter and Venus, along with the moon, in a triangular fashion just after sunset.

JupVenMoon

This is an exaggerated representation of where the planets and moon appear in the sky. The celestial bodies have been enlarged so you can see which planet is which.

The waxing crescent Moon perches some 5° to Jupiter’s lower left this evening. The two objects join with Venus to dominate the evening sky from a half-hour after sunset until they dip below the horizon after 11 p.m. local daylight time. Only 6° separate Venus and Jupiter tonight; the gap between the two will continue to narrow over the next 10 days as the pair heads toward a spectacular conjunction in late June and early July.

On June 19th, the Moon, Venus and Jupiter will form a bright isosceles triangle in the sunset sky. Isosceles means that two sides of the triangle are the same length.  This is how most sky watchers in North America will see it.

Tonight, when the sun goes down, go outside and look west.  You won’t have to wait till it gets nice and dark outside, Jupiter and Venus will shine so bright that you can find them through the twilight.  The vertices rearrange themselves, forming yet another isosceles triangle.

The nights of June 19th and 20th, by the way, are good nights to look through a telescope. Even a small telescope will show you the fat crescent phase of Venus, the cloudtops and largest moons of Jupiter, and the rugged terrain of Earth’s own Moon. Swing your optics around the triangle for a fast-paced heavenly show.

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