Starwatch: pre-dawn delight as moon meets Jupiter and Mars

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There is a delightful grouping of planets and the moon to look forward to in the pre-dawn sky this week. On 25 May, the moon will meet Jupiter and Mars low in the east just before sunrise.

The chart shows the view looking east from London at 0400 BST on 25 May, shortly after the grouping has risen above the horizon. The moon will be a waning crescent with 25% of its visible surface illuminated. This will shrink in the following days as the moon sinks closer and closer to the Sun, to be reborn in the evening sky as a new moon next week. Jupiter will be the brighter of the two planets, and Mars should be a faintly red colour.

Don’t be late, the view will not last long, as the rapidly approaching dawn will wash their light from the sky. The farther south you are, the easier it will be to see. From Sydney, Australia, the group will appear much higher in a dark sky in the early hours of the morning. Two days later, viewers here will also see a 9%-illuminated moon cruise past the bright planet Venus.

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