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Moon joins planets in the sunset sky

Andrew Fazekas, astronomer
March 23, 2012 — Skywatchers over the course of the last week in March will get to see the waxing crescent Moon join the brightest planets visible in the entire sky.

Visible planets on March 27
Visible planets on March 27

Both Jupiter and Venus have been slowly moving apart since their mid-March close encounter with Jupiter sinking closer to the Sun while Venus climbs higher in the sky.

The razor thin crescent moon will first join jupiter for a stunninly close conjunction, visible to the naked eye on March 25.

The pair will be separated by only 1.5 degrees - equal to the width of one's little finger held at arm's length.

The close proximity, however, is only an optical illusion as the moon is 250 times closer to Earth than Jupiter, which lies at a 870 million km distance. On March 26, the moon will have creeped higher in the western sunset sky and park itelf next to Venus. The two brightest celestial objects side by side in the night sky will make for a spectacular sight to the unaided eye and a great photo opportunity.

As a grand finale to the sky show, on March 27 the moon will position itself to the right of one of the brighter stars in the Springtime sky.

Aldebaran, which sits at 65 light years away, is the lead member in the constellation Taurus and represents the eye of the mythical bull.

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