In the early hours of Sunday morning (June 19) the waning moon will pass within a thumbs width of asteroid Vesta in the east-southeastern sky.
During this close approach, the pair will share the view in a widefield telescope eyepiece, according to Chris Vaughan, amateur astronomer with SkySafari Software who oversees Space.com’s Night Sky calendar. Shining at magnitude 6.75, Vesta will be visible to the moon‘s upper left.
“The diurnal rotation of the sky will lift Vesta above the moon by 4 a.m,” said Vaughan. Observers in most of Antarctica, the tip of South America, and the Falkland Islands can see the moon occult Vesta around 08:00 GMT.”
Related: The brightest planets in June’s night sky: How to see them (and when)
The exact time of the event varies depending on your specific location, so you’ll want to check out a skywatching app like SkySafari or software like Starry Night to confirm the local time to look up. Our picks for the best stargazing apps may help you with your planning.
Vesta is the brightest asteroid in the sky and is occasionally visible from Earth with the naked eye. It is the second-largest body in the asteroid belt, surpassed only by Ceres, which is classified as a dwarf planet.
Hoping to snap a good photo of the moon as it approaches Vesta? Our guide on how to photograph the moon has some helpful tips. If you’re looking for a camera, here’s our overview of the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. As always, our guides for the best telescopes and best binoculars can help you prepare for the next great skywatching event.
The close approach of the moon and Vesta isn’t the only skywatching event to look out for this month. Throughout June, a rare “planet parade” will be visible in the predawn sky as all five naked-eye planets line up in their orbital order from the sun. From left to right in the southeastern sky, you’ll be able to spot Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all in a row. (Mercury will become easier to spot as the month matures.)
The best opportunity to see this spectacle may come on June 24, as Mercury should rise about an hour before the sun, according to a press release (opens in new tab) from Sky&Telescope.
Throughout June, the moon will journey past the planets in the morning sky. On June 21, it will pass Jupiter, then it will journey past Mars on June 22 and Venus on June 26, finishing its tour with Mercury on June 27.
Editor’s Note: If you capture a great photo of the moon and Vesta would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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