Amateur astronomers were treated to rare sight late Monday as Jupiter and the moon appeared side by side.
While the pair of heavenly bodies are spread by nearly 5 A.U., the duo appear less than a pen length apart when viewed in the night sky. Astronomers around the world were able to catch a glimpse via the Slooh Space Camera, which transmitted a live feed of the event. The event was presided over by Slooh president Patrick Paolucci, astronomer Bob Berman of Astronomy Magazine, and Matt Francis of the Prescott Observatory. Event organizers said they were thrilled with how many people signed in to watch the moon meet Jupiter.
Jupiter and the moon will appear at their closest at different times depending on your viewing location, according to Sky & Telescope magazine. The event is not forecast to occur for at least another ten years or so, according to NASA.
In case you missed Monday night’s viewing, you will still be in luck. On March 17, Jupiter and the moon will have another change to appear to have a celestial encounter and that event will also be streamed live via the Slooh Space Camera. On August 2016 when the pair are set to appear even closer in North American skies, before stargazers will have to wait a full ten years to witness the event again.
While a number of amatuer astronomers are likely to focus on the moon meeting Jupiter, there is one other major attraction that is likely to peak interest: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. The storm is expected to be visible in eyepieces, along with Jupiter’s famous moon, Europa.
The latest event was reminiscent of an earlier meeting between Jupiter and the moon. In mid-2012, skygazers around planet Earth enjoyed the close encounter of planets and Moon in July 15’s predawn skies, while many saw bright Jupiter next to the slender moon.