Now that the waning Moon is rising after midnight, deep-sky observers within the UK and Western Europe can rejoice on the return of darkish night skies for looking down all kinds of extragalactic deep-sky objects (some described right here). For lunar and planetary lovers, nevertheless, the one naked-eye planet of the night sky is distant and tiny Mars within the constellation of Taurus. However when you’re ready to be an early riser, the daybreak sky is the place you’ll discover two of the photo voltaic system’s heavyweights, Jupiter and Saturn.
Jupiter, the biggest planet, at present lies in Ophiuchus, the unofficial 13th zodiacal constellation. Presently shining at magnitude -2.2 and due to this fact the brightest object within the daybreak sky apart from the Moon, Jupiter could be discovered low within the southern sky on the onset of civil twilight some 35 minutes earlier than dawn within the UK.
On the morning of Wednesday, 27 March round 5am GMT you will discover Jupiter simply 1½ levels to the decrease proper of the 21-day-old waning gibbous Moon. Therefore the Moon and planet will simply slot in the identical discipline of view of binoculars and telescopes magnifying 30× or much less. In increased magnification devices you’ll see that Jupiter seems to have solely two Galilean moons at the moment – Callisto to the east and Ganymede to the appropriate. (Io is behind Jupiter and Europa is eclipsed by the planet’s shadow).
Two mornings later, it’s magnitude +0.6 Saturn’s flip to get considerably nearer to the waning Moon. If you happen to look very low within the south-southeast at 5am GMT on Friday, 29 March you possibly can see the 23-day-old lunar crescent simply two Moon widths beneath the ringed planet. Saturn’s largest and brightest moon, magnitude +9 Titan, occurs to be near biggest elongation this explicit morning, some 4⅓ ring diameters east of its father or mother planet.
As seen from extra southerly latitudes, particularly South Africa, the Moon truly occults (passes in entrance of) Saturn round nautical daybreak on Friday, 29 March.