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Moon Close To Jupiter This Month

Moon near Jupiter

From time to time various celestial bodies, like the moon and Venus (pictured above), appear to be dangerously close to each other. Most of this is just an illusion of perspective, but nonetheless, the apparent nearness, or conjunctions as astronomers call them, tend to get attention and put on a nice show for those watching the heavens.

The month the moon will appear at times to be close to Jupiter, the dwarf planet Ceres and Mars and all three events will be viewable from Earth — as long as you’re in the right place.

Space.com reports that the morning of Sept. 8, the moon and Jupiter will appear to be nearly adjacent. Jupiter’s brightness should make this an easy sighting, and for sky watchers in South America, the moon will block the gas giant and its moons from view for an hour or so. This passing over is called an occultation.

Earthsky.org reports that Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will be shining brighter than any star in the sky, noting that the only brighter object you’ll see looking up other than the moon will be the planet Venus, which is not on the moon’s dance card for a conjunction.

The moon will conjunction with Ceres the following morning, Sept. 9. Ceres is a dwarf planet that was once characterized as an asteroid. Ceres, which will be occulted by the moon over most of North America, is much smaller and will be too dim to see with the naked eye.

Finally this month the moon has its third close encounter of this kind when it will pass near the Red Planet, Mars. Mars, which is only visible briefly right after sunset, will not have a terribly close conjunction with the moon on Sept. 19 for viewers in North America, but central South American astronomers will see an occultation.

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