EarthSky News for Dec. 2nd: Last quarter moon and Jupiter December 3

Last quarter moon and Jupiter December 3

Tomorrow morning – December 3, 2015 – you can see the moon and the king planet Jupiter quite close together on the great dome of sky. Watch for these two worlds no matter where you live on Earth. They’re up in the wee hours, higher in the sky before dawn. Just look for the brilliant starlike object close to the moon in the predawn sky on December 3, and sure enough, that’ll be the giant planet Jupiter.

The moon on December 3 will be at or near its last quarter phase. The last quarter moon will come to pass on December 3 at 7:40 Universal Time. Although the last quarter moon happens at the same instant worldwide, the clock reads differently according to time zone. At U.S. time zones, the last quarter moon falls on December 3 at 2:40 a.m. EST, 1:40 a.m. CST, 12:40 a.m. MST – and on December 2 at 11:40 p.m. PST. What does it all mean? It only means that – depending on where you live worldwide – the moon might or might not be above the horizon at the instant that it reaches the crest of its last quarter phase.

Meanwhile, all of us will see an approximate last quarter moon, in the shape of half a pie, on the morning of December 3.

By the way, the moon and Jupiter will be even closer together on the sky’s dome on the morning on December 4.

Jupiter is very bright, but another planet up before dawn outshines it. In fact, two celestial bodies – the moon and Venus – outshine Jupiter in the morning sky before sunrise.

But there’s not much chance of mistaking Venus for Jupiter, or vice versa, on the mornings of December 3 and 4.

On these dates, Jupiter shines closer to the moon on the sky’s dome than Venus does.

Later on in the first week of December, 2015, the waning crescent moon will swing by the red planet Mars and then Venus.

What’s more, people in central and eastern Africa can watch the moon occult – cover over – Mars in the December 6 predawn/dawn sky; and people in northwestern North America (Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories) can witness the moon occulting Venus in their December 7 predawn/dawn sky.

Bottom line: In the predawn hours on December 3, 2015, the moon will be at or near its last quarter phase and shining close to the planet Jupiter on the sky’s dome.