2019, March 26-29: Moon Glides Past Morning Planets Jupiter and Saturn


During late March, the moon glides past morning planets Jupiter and Saturn.  The chart above shows the scene about 45 minutes before sunrise.  Check your newspaper, television weather, or Internet source for the time of your local sunrise.  These observations are not time sensitive because the moon and planets are higher in the sky than earlier in the year.

Step outside before sunrise and look south.  Bright Jupiter is there about one-third of the way up in the sky.  Saturn is about 25° to the lower left of Jupiter.  Here’s what to look for:

  • March 26: This morning, the waning gibbous moon that is 68% illuminated is nearly 9° to the upper right of bright Jupiter
  • March 27: This morning. the nearly last quarter moon that is nearly 60% illuminated is over 4° to the left of Jupiter. Notice the distance that the moon moved from yesterday. With a binocular notice that the day-night line (terminator) on the moon is slightly convex – bowed outward.
  • March 28: At the beginning of morning twilight, the thick crescent moon that is 48% illuminated, 19° up in the south-southeast, is 9° to the right of Saturn.   This morning the terminator is slightly concave – bowed in.
  • March 29: This morning, the moon that is 38% illuminated, 14° up in the southeast, is about 3° to the lower left of Saturn.  Notice the amount the moon phase shrank during these mornings.

Look for the moon and Venus on April 1.

More about measurements.  Degrees (°) are used in astronomy to measure separation of celestial objects and sizes of objects as they appear to us, not their real sizes, their apparent sizes.   One-half degree is the apparent size of the moon.  The next time you see the moon in the sky, extend your arm and then your pointer finger.  The tip of the finger, with the finger nail, covers the moon.  Your fist extended toward the sky covers about 10°.  So, on March 26, the distance between the moon and Jupiter is about the distance across your fist.  The next morning about three knuckles is the distance between the moon and Jupiter.

More about the morning planets:


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