Moon to occult Jupiter on morning of May 17, 2023
The moon to occult Jupiter on May 17
Here’s hoping you have clear skies on the morning of May 17, 2023. For all of us around the globe, the waning crescent moon will be near Jupiter. And, for some, the moon will slide past – and maybe even cover – the gas giant planet.
Astronomers call this event an occultation, when one object in space passes in front of another. In this case, the moon is occulting Jupiter. You could even say that the moon is eclipsing Jupiter.
On that Wednesday morning, the thin waning crescent moon will be only 5% illuminated when it occults Jupiter. Most places will be in daylight during the occultation. Those further west in the areas of visibility may see the occultation occur near or before the sun rises.
A word of caution, be very careful pointing binoculars or telescopes at the sky when the sun is above the horizon. Even a quick glance at the sun through any kind of optical aid can cause permanent blindness.
Where is the occultation visible?
The moon will pass in front of Jupiter as seen from areas that include northern Central America, northern Caribbean, most of North America, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, northern British Isles, Scandinavia and northwest Russia.
The map below shows what part of the world gets to view the occultation.
When can I see the occultation?
The moon and Jupiter will rise around 4:30 a.m. local time. The moon will cover Jupiter during daylight in the Eastern time zone, and morning twilight in the Central time zone. Western regions will have the darkest skies. The exact time the moon first passes in front of Jupiter varies by location. Find the start and end times for your location here.
For example, for those in Denver, Colorado, Jupiter disappears behind the moon at 5:32 a.m. MDT, though in twilight. (Sunrise is at 5:41 a.m. for Denver.) Jupiter will reappear at 6:27 a.m. MDT in daylight. For Phoenix, Arizona, Jupiter disappears behind the moon at 4:21 a.m. MST, when the pair are only 1.7 degrees above the horizon. Jupiter will reappear from behind the moon at 5:16 a.m. MST, and sunrise follows at 5:24 a.m. MST.
For those who live outside the viewing area, you’ll see the moon and Jupiter skim right past each other. Some places will even get to see Jupiter play peekaboo along the cratered and mountainous limb of the moon. And some places may see Jupiter about 1 degree away from the moon. It’s all about location!
What will you see when the moon occults Jupiter?
The waning crescent moon will not be very bright in daylight. And it’s only 5% illuminated that morning, shining at -9.27 magnitude. Jupiter is 100% illuminated, shining at -1.9 magnitude, and it’s 33 arcseconds across. So, if your location is still dark, you can see Jupiter with the unaided eye as it gets closer to the moon. However, they’ll certainly be difficult to see in the morning twilight or daylight without optical aid.
Some recent occultations that were easier to see include the December 7-8, 2022, lunar occultation of Mars. And the recent lunar occultation of Venus on March 24, 2023, occurred in an evening sky.
Viewing will be complicated since it’s in daylight
Of course, since most of the occultation takes place in daylight, you’ll need to use binoculars or a telescope to see it. It’s best to set up your equipment in shade to prevent any direct sunlight entering your line of sight. Even a momentary glance at the sun – especially through binoculars or telescopes – can cause permanent eye damage.
Also, people who observe occultations typically try to catch both the disappearance and reappearance of the star or planet as it’s blotted from view. Jupiter will disappear behind the illuminated edge of the moon. And then – after a while – Jupiter will emerge along the darkened edge of the moon.
Start watching the occulation about five minutes before Jupiter disappears from your location. Once it’s gone, there’s not much you can do – unless you have some safe solar viewing equipment – except wait for the planet to reappear from behind the other side of the moon. Again, about five minutes before the scheduled reappearance of Jupiter, start watching in your binoculars or telescope.
When the moon occults Jupiter, it’s a great photo op!
So, what will you see during the occultation of Jupiter? The answer depends on how hard you try, what tools you use, where you are on Earth – as always, on the seeing of your sky – and on your skill at observing events like this.
If you capture a picture of the moon occulting (or passing) Jupiter that you’d love to share, submit it to EarthSky Community Photos.
Bottom line: On the morning of May 17, 2023, the waning crescent moon occults – or covers – the gas giant planet Jupiter. Details here, including how to see it and what to expect.