The moon and Jupiter will be in conjunction tonight. Together with Saturn the trio will form a skinny triangle in the southern sky from dusk till dawn. Stellarium
The moon and Jupiter will be in conjunction tonight. Together with Saturn the trio will form a skinny triangle in the southern sky from dusk till dawn. Stellarium

If you face south this evening (August 28) you'll see the biggest planet and the brightest object in the nighttime sky paired in a close conjunction. The egg-shaped waxing gibbous moon will pass just 2 below Jupiter. Alignments like these have a lot of eye-drawing power. I plan to be out before sunset and also at night to enjoy the sight. Whenever the moon passes close to a bright planet it's an opportunity — call it a challenge — to see if you can spot that planet in the daytime sky.

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This is how the pair will look in binoculars around 7 p.m. CDT. The view will be similar at 7 p.m. local time from the Eastern to the Pacific time zones. The moon will be in the southeastern sky at that hour.Stellarium
This is how the pair will look in binoculars around 7 p.m. CDT. The view will be similar at 7 p.m. local time from the Eastern to the Pacific time zones. The moon will be in the southeastern sky at that hour.Stellarium

When the sun is low in the western sky this evening, around 7-7:30 p.m. point a pair of binoculars at the moon and focus it sharply. Then look at little its upper left and see if you tease out the planet Jupiter. Unlike Venus, which often resembles a spark of light, Jupiter has a shape and will appear as a minute, white disk against the blue sky. If you can't see the planet before sunset try again right around sunset. As long as the sky is clear of clouds, haze and wildfire smoke it should be obvious at that time.

As the sky darkens during twilight you'll soon spot Jupiter with the naked eye. Dusk is the best time to get a photo of the conjunction with your mobile phone. During early to mid-twilight the duo will stand out brightly at the same time there's enough ambient light to illuminate the landscape. Frame a pretty picture with a favorite scene, hold the phone steady (or buttress it against a wall, a tree or a friend's back) and press away.

Look for the Bay of Rainbows and the prominent craters Copernicus, Tycho and Plato tonight in binoculars or a telescope. Bob King
Look for the Bay of Rainbows and the prominent craters Copernicus, Tycho and Plato tonight in binoculars or a telescope. Bob King

After you're done taking photos spend a few minutes studying the moon in binoculars or a small telescope. You'll see one of its most strikingly beautiful features called the Bay of Rainbows. Could there be a more romantically named place on this barren ball of rock?

Shadows fill the Bay of Rainbows (left) while slanted sunlight highlights the remaining arc-shaped crater wall. You can clearly see that the feature was once a complete crater. When an asteroid punched out the much larger Mare Imbrium, magma flowed upward from cracks in the lunar crust and submerged the crater, leaving only a partial wall standing.Bob King
Shadows fill the Bay of Rainbows (left) while slanted sunlight highlights the remaining arc-shaped crater wall. You can clearly see that the feature was once a complete crater. When an asteroid punched out the much larger Mare Imbrium, magma flowed upward from cracks in the lunar crust and submerged the crater, leaving only a partial wall standing.Bob King

Also called Sinus Iridum, the bay is the outline of a former crater 162 miles (260 km) wide that was buried under massive magma flows that breached its walls after the formation of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Showers), a huge impact basin. All that remains to this day is the arc of the original wall that catches the low-angled sunlight and gleams like a scimitar when the moon is 10 days old. Tonight's the night!

Jupiter and its four brightest moons as you'll see them tonight (Aug. 28) in a small telescope around 9 p.m. CDT.Stellarium
Jupiter and its four brightest moons as you'll see them tonight (Aug. 28) in a small telescope around 9 p.m. CDT.Stellarium

Under favorable conditions I've seen the arc with the naked eye as a comma-like extension of the bright moon into the part still in darkness. Jupiter will also be showing off all four of its bright moons tonight. 10x binoculars will show at least two of them which will look like stars pinned to either side of the planet. Any telescope will reveal all four with ease. Bonus! A 6-inch or larger telescope magnifying 100x will show the Great Red Spot tonight, too. We'll see it square-on around midnight CDT; 1 a.m. Eastern; 11 p.m. Mountain and 10 p.m. Pacific.

Wishing you clear skies.