Tuesday 14 March 2017 promises a spectacular celestial view. If you have a clear evening cast your eyes eastwards at about 9pm GMT for a dazzling duo of a near full moon rising together with Jupiter – the biggest planet in our solar system.
Scale, of course, is relative. The Moon is roughly one-fifth the size of Earth, while inside Jupiter you could fit 1800 Earths! Yet, on 14 March, the Moon will be the biggest object in our night sky as it is only 397,000 kms from us that night. Jupiter, by contrast, is a whopping 680 million kms away.
(Image – European Southern Observatory)
Degrees of Separation
Our earthbound viewpoint on 14 March gives the appearance that Jupiter and the Moon are close. To the naked eye they are just over 1.6-degrees of sky apart. That’s the equivalent of 3 lunar distances – i.e. you could fit another 3 moons in the space between them. In a mid-size or large telescope, while both objects look spectacular in their own right, it’ll be a struggle to get them in the same field of view. A small telescope or binoculars is the way to go if you want to see ...