Quarantined? Why not check out this week’s lunar dance with the planets!

The moon appears close to Saturn early in the morning of the 15th April.

OK, so it’s not so much of a dance but rather a pretty cool lining up of the moon with Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. Now, you will have to get up just before sunrise to see it in the south-eastern sky but it’s worth it. After all you probably don’t have work in the morning to go to and you can always roll back into bed afterward.

What can you expect?

So I got up this morning at 5am and spent about 20 minutes outside taking in the beautiful view. I’ve got a Canon 70D and below are the photos I was able to take.

View of the Moon with Jupiter, Saturn and Mars to the descending left. Taken with a Canon 70D.
Moon and Jupiter
The moon with Jupiter and its moons Ganymede and Callisto.

It’s pretty cool to think that you don’t actually need a telescope to be able to take a photo of Jupiter and some of its moons! If you want the moon to not be blown out (like in the first photo) then take two photos quickly after each other. One a longer exposure to bring out the planets and then a shorter one just for the moon. Then compose them together in photoshop. Just remember that our planet is rotating and exposures longer than 10 seconds will cause the planets and stars to appear streaked.

What days can I see the moon with Jupiter, Saturn and Mars?

The moon will gradually pass by Jupiter, Saturn and Mars early in the morning of the 15th and 16th April, so you’ve got some time to see it! The images below are taken from the free astronomy software Stellarium and show the view from where I am in Puerto Rico. If you live somewhere else in the world you can download the phone app Star Walk (available on both android and iOS) to help plan the best time to see it.

Hope you enjoy the view of this event and remember, you can get pretty nice photos with a cell phone nowadays and if you have a tripod to keep it or your camera steady, all the better.

For all the parents out there, this could be a fun astronomy lesson with your kids if they are old enough. You have Venus in the western sky at dusk and 3 planets and the moon in the eastern sky before dawn.

Why not give it a shot and then show your photos to all your friends on social media. Keep looking up!

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