Mon Apr 10, 2017 MOON AND JUPITER IN VIRGO
Tonight the nearly full moon appears in the east at sunset. As darkness sets in, you’ll find that our nearest neighbor in space has some company – the planet Jupiter. There it is, a very bright star to the right of the moon. Along with Jupiter and the moon there is another star below them - it is Spica in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. One indicator of distance in space is brightness, although it isn’t entirely reliable. Some objects are just naturally brighter than others, but in the case of the moon, Jupiter and Spica, this method works. The moon is the brightest of the three, even though it’s smaller than Jupiter and Spica, because it’s only a couple of hundred thousand miles or so away. Jupiter is many hundreds of millions of miles out, but that’s still a lot closer than Spica, which is just over 260 light years, or one thousand five hundred and sixty trillion miles away – far out!