In the early hours of Sunday morning (June 19), the waning moon will pass within an inch width of asteroid Vesta in the east-southeast sky.
During this close approach, the pair will share the view in a widefield telescope eyepiece, according to Chris Vaughan, an amateur astronomer at SkySafari Software who oversees Space.com’s Night Sky schedule. Shining at magnitude 6.75, Vesta will be visible for the moonis at the top left.
“The diurnal rotation of the sky will raise Vesta above the moon at 4 a.m.,” Vaughan said. Observers in most of Antarctica, the tip of South America and the Falkland Islands can see the occult moon Vesta around 08:00 GMT.”
Related: The Brightest Planets in the June 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 consult a sky-watching app like SkySafari or software like Starry Night to confirm the local time to look up. Our picks for the best stargazing apps can help you with your planning.
Vesta is the brightest asteroid in the sky and is sometimes visible from Earth with the naked eye. It is the second largest body in the asteroid beltsurpassed only by Ceres, which is classified as a dwarf planet.
Hoping to take a good picture of the moon as Vesta approaches? Our guide on how to photograph the moon has some helpful tips. If you’re looking for a camera, here’s our rundown of the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography. As always, our guides to the best telescopes and the best binoculars can help you prepare for the next big skywatching event.
The close approach of the moon and Vesta isn’t the only skywatching event to watch this month. Throughout June, a rare “parade of planets” will be visible in the pre-dawn sky as the 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 in a row. (Mercury will become easier to spot as the month matures.)
The best opportunity to see this spectacle could come on June 24, as Mercury is expected to rise about an hour before the sun, according to a Press release (opens in a new tab) from Sky&Telescope.
Throughout June, the moon will pass in front of the planets in the morning sky. On June 21, it will pass Jupiter, then pass Mars on June 22 and Venus on June 26, ending 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 readers, send your photo(s), comments, and name and location to email@example.com.
Follow us on Twitter @Espacedotcom and on Facebook.