Over the next week, nature will present a spectacular early morning stunner. Starting today, Friday, November 6th and continuing for the next week, you will be witness to a spectacle like no other. The eastern sky after 3:00 AM, EST will present with the waning crescent moon, flanked by brilliant Jupiter, all east of Regulus, the Heart of Leo, the Lion. Moving east along the ecliptic, from Leo into Virgo, will be Mars and Venus, Venus having just passed greatest Western Elongation on October 26th. Greatest Elongation, whether east or west, is the point relative to our vantage point as observers on the earth when the planet appears to be at its greatest separation or distance from the sun, east or west. Greatest Western Elongation occurs prior to sunrise with the observed planet at its western-most point, rising before the sun and greatest eastern elongation occurring after sunset at its eastern-most point. This is an apparent separation or elongation as the real distance from the sun to the observed planet doesn’t change much but only appears to do so in our sky.
If you’re fortunate enough to have an unobstructed eastern horizon, Mercury is visible 90 minutes prior to sunrise at 5:00 AM this morning, November 6th but moving closer to the sun with each day. By mid-month, it will be all but invisible, lost in the glare of our day star.
As we would expect, the moon, moving eastward along the ecliptic at the rate of 12º per day, will exhibit the greatest nightly movement over the next 7 nights with November 11th being New Moon, the point in the moon’s 29.5 day cycle when it rises with the sun.
Please feel free to share any images you may capture.