Moon and planets deliver quadruple cosmic vision

Living Well | Perry Vlahos | Posted on 12 February 2019

The moon visits Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. Astronomer Perry Vlahos explains.

I’m not one for getting people out of bed early unnecessarily – especially myself. However, believe me, it’s necessary that you see this; the three brightest night-time objects – plus one, will feature in their own ‘photon-play’ over the course of a few mornings, before the sun rises. 

From late February through to early March, the moon will swap partners each dawn from Jupiter to Saturn and finally Venus, with a tremendous vista as a climax on the last morning. All four objects will be visible simultaneously, with the moon beginning just under Jupiter on 28 February, finding its way near Saturn two days later on 2 March, and the next morning (3 March) concluding less than a degree from Venus.

In order to see this celestial spectacle you’ll need to be an early riser.
moon in crescent phase

No special equipment is required in order to catch this cosmic phenomenon, your naked eye is enough, but binoculars may just give a view of the lunar craters and Jupiter’s moons.

This will also make for a beautiful photo opportunity, but note that best results will be gained by attaching your camera to a tripod. Don’t bother with a flash though – they’re a bit too far for the flash to illuminate them!

In order to see this celestial spectacle you’ll need to be an early riser. The best viewing times will be between 5.30 and 6.30am. It will all take place in the eastern sky, so make sure you’ve got a clear view in that direction, free of tall trees and high buildings. You don’t need to get away from the light-polluted suburbs, but try to find a spot away from direct lighting. A beach, park or football oval without bright lights will suffice.

While looking up, you’ll be subject to an interesting exercise in perspective. Despite all four solar-system objects looking as though they’re at the same distance, in reality they’re nowhere near each other. The moon is on average 384,000 kilometres away. Venus will be at 150 million. Jupiter is 800 million kilometres distant and Saturn a whopping 1.5 billion!