9 Oct. 2015: the Moon meets Venus, Jupiter and Mars in Leo
Next 9 Oct. 2015, just before dawn, this sky will offer us an amazing show. The Moon, close to the end of its circle in the sky and ready to embrace the Sun, will hover above the eastern horizon, at the early lights of sunrise, as a sharp, silver crescent.
Not only we will admire the bright, thin blade of light of the lunar landscape shining under the direct sunlight, but the whole face of Selene, lightened by the diaphanous Earthshine, that is the sunlight that our planet reflects to its natural satellite, likewise our full Moon enlightens our terrestrial nights.
This would be enough, already, to motivate us to wake up early in that morning, but it is not all! Together with Hecate, there will be a nice handful of planets, most of those visible by the naked eyes: in fact, Venus, Mars and Jupiter will be within a dozen degrees, with the Moon between Venus and Mars. The star Regulus, the brightest one of Leo, the constellation hosting this cosmic party, will be part of this stunning “fellowship”. Furthermore, Mercury will show shortly before sunrise, so it will enrich the scenery, though it will be harder to catch in the bright sky. For the record, the asteroid (10931) Ceccano, discovered by the author in 1998, will show in the same tiny plot of heaven, though completely invisible to the naked eye.
The chart available above shows the aspect of the sky at the date and time marked there; it has been created for Rome, Italy, but it is widely useful from any location north of the equator.
To join the show, you only need an observing site with a free eastern horizon. It would be good to be there in time, to enjoy this sight as the daylight increases.
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