Starwatch: Jupiter and Saturn are joined by the moon

By Stuart Clark

Jupiter and Saturn are shining brightly in the southern sky. They are conspicuous because they are currently situated in a somewhat barren part of the night sky but this week the pair are joined by the moon on successive evenings.

The chart shows the view looking due south from London at 2100 BST on 14 October. The moon will be in a waxing gibbous phase with about 68% of its visible surface illuminated. The night before, Earth’s natural satellite will be closer to Saturn, and the night after it will be pairing with Jupiter.

If the weather cooperates, this will be a good way to gauge how the moon moves, and changes phase, night after night.

Also, notice how Jupiter is considerably brighter than Saturn. This is because although the two planets are almost the same size, Saturn is twice as far away as Jupiter. The two planets are also different colours with Jupiter more or less white, and Saturn a pale ochre.

If you are in the southern hemisphere, the planets appear high in the sky. As an added bonus, Venus will be shining brilliantly in the western sky, close to the star Antares in the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion.

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