First-quarter moon crowds Jupiter tonight
They should be a striking pair this evening, as bright Jupiter and October's first-quarter moon dominate the southern sky.
As the clouds clear off this evening, step outside after sunset and feast your eyes. Low on the southern horizon, the moon stands just west of, and below, the planet Jupiter (left), the largest planet in the solar system. Jupiter, looking like a bright star, is currently about 470 million miles from the Earth - about five times the Earth's distance from the sun.
The moon, a week past new, stands 250,700 miles from Earth. That makes Jupiter about 1,872 times more distant than the moon.
Now turn to the west. If it's soon enough after sunset and you have a clear view to the west, you should be able to spot the planet Venus (right), shining like a bright star, low on the western horizon. Venus is currently about 127.5 million miles from Earth. It is just coming around from the back side of the sun, so it is still farther from us than the sun itself, which is about 93 million miles away.