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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2020 11:57 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:57 pm
Posts: 641
You may want to look at the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter close together an hour before sunrise for the remainder of this month. Read all about it here: ... y-may-2020

Matthew M.

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2020 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:53 pm
Posts: 294
Location: Maple Shade, NJ
I've been incidentally following the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars when I've been out early the past four mornings in an effort to spot comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN) around 4:30 am EDT (roughly half an hour after the start of astronomical twilight and an hour-and-a-quarter before sunrise). Because of the Moon's presence, the start of twilight isn't so obvious, it's around 4:45 am when there's a distinct glow above the eastern horizon.

Anyway, the 72% illuminated moon was about 3° below Jupiter this morning (Tuesday, 12-May-2020), forming its tightest grouping with Jupiter and Saturn for this lunation. By tomorrow (Wednesday, May 13), the Moon will be 8° below-left of Saturn, and it will keep moving swiftly eastward, reaching New Moon on May 22. So, the closest grouping of the three has already passed, and the Moon will not be with Jupiter and Saturn for the remainder of the month.

And so far, I have not been able to detect C/2020 F8 (SWAN) with my 15x56 binoculars or my 88 mm apo spotting scope. Saturday and Sunday mornings (May 9 & 10), I just couldn't see it at the low altitude (nominally 3° or so) in a moonlit sky, and on Monday and Tuesday (May 11 & 12), there were clouds along the eastern horizon. To compound the situation, the hoped-for brightening of this comet, up to the magnitude 3 range when it reached our northern skies, has not materialized. It peaked at the high 4.x range in early May, then dropped and flattened out in the mid to high 5.x range. See the magnitude data at COBS...

However, hope springs eternal for the determined comet spotter, so I'll be back out tomorrow morning if the actual sky corresponds with the current Clear Sky Chart prediction. I also want to get my binoculars on Neptune, which is below the Water Jar of Aquarius now, about 20° east of Mars. I haven't seen it yet this apparition, and it would make four morning planets.

Finally, don't forget to look at Venus with a scope (or perhaps binoculars or even the unaided keen eye) in the evening to see the slim crescent getting slimmer. It's only a few weeks until inferior conjunction on June 3. Try to catch it soon after sunset when it's a bit higher in the sky the background is still relatively bright to temper the glare from this brilliant object.

Joe Stieber

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