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Look to the Sky: Jupiter, Venus & Moon to Come Together

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If you're into planet watching, the next time this will happen is on Nov. 18, 2052. So best to take advantage this weekend:

Starting Thanksgiving evening, Jupiter and Venus will begin moving closer so that by Sunday and Monday, they will appear 2 degrees apart, which is about a finger width held out at arm's length, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky and Telescope magazine. Then on Monday night, they will be joined by a crescent moon right next to them, he said. [Associated Press]

For a local take on this event, Astronomical Observer Anthony Cook from The Griffith Observatory Sky Report has the scoop:

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This week brings the climax to the pairing of the brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, in the evening sky. This spectacle is best seen at about 6:00 p.m., when the two planets are about 17 degrees above the southwest horizon. Jupiter is nearly 5 degrees to the upper left of brighter Venus on Wednesday night, the 26th. They continue to draw closer until they reach conjunction, their closest approach to each other, on Sunday night, November 30. The planets are then separated by just over two degrees. The grouping is made even more spectacular by the presence of the slender crescent moon, just 7 degrees below the planets. This trio will be at their most attractive on the next night, Monday, December 3, with Jupiter 2.2 degrees to the right of Venus, and the moon only 4 degrees to the upper right of the pair. On following nights, Jupiter will appear farther from Venus, moving down and to the right. The planets set at about 7:40 p.m.

He continues...

Later at night [Monday], the brightest star of the night time sky, Sirius, in Canis Major the Big Dog, sparkles 40 degrees high in the south at 2:00 a.m. Located to the south east of the belt of Orion, Sirius rises in the south east just before 9 p.m., and is low in the south west before dawn. Saturn, in Leo the Lion, rises in the east half an hour after midnight, and is well placed for telescopic viewing in the south east in the early morning hours, attaining a height of 54 degrees above the horizon when dawn starts at 5:11 a.m. The planet is now providing the best views of its nearly edge-on rings that will be visible until the year 2025.

Although this can probably be seen somewhat without the help of a telescope, the one at the Griffith Observatory is probably more fun. Cook says that "free public viewing of the sun during the day and of the moon, planets, and other celestial objects at night, is available through Griffith Observatory's telescopes until 9:45 p.m., every night-weather permitting-except Mondays, when the Observatory is closed."

And if you miss it all? Venus and the crescent moon only will happen again on New Year's Eve.

Photo by karthikkito via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr