You don't need to seek out exceptional dark skies to view every event astronomical event this season. Tonight and Friday night, you can witness a celestial trio crossing the sky.
After sunset tonight, pause for a moment in whatever you're doing to take in the night sky. If your skies are clear, or there are some breaks in the clouds, you may spot bright Venus off towards the western horizon, but the real 'stars' of the show will be to the southeast.
Already high above the horizon as the Sun sets, the Waxing Gibbous Moon will be shining brightly, but it won't be alone. Off to either side of it, two other bright points will be visible. These aren't stars, though. Instead, they're the two largest planets in our solar system — Jupiter and Saturn.
The Waxing Gibbous Moon, flanked by Jupiter and Saturn, as they will appear in the southern sky at around 9 p.m. local time on Thursday, October 14. Credit: Stellarium
The Moon and Jupiter are bright enough to be visible from pretty much anywhere, even from the most light-polluted streets of Canada's largest cities. Saturn, on the other hand, can be a bit more of a challenge. Since it is more distant than Jupiter, it doesn't shine as brightly. Thus, if you're looking up from an urban setting, give yourself a moment to see if you can spot it. Maybe even try gazing slightly off to one side to bring your more sensitive peripheral vision into play (a technique called "averted vision").
However, the farther away from city lights you are, the brighter this trio will be in the sky.
Cloud conditions will be the most significant factor in determining who will see this celestial trio tonight.
Don't worry, though! If you miss it on Thursday night, either due to your schedule or an overcast sky, try again on Friday night. Since the Moon rises later every night, it will be shifted over to the left of Jupiter as they cross the sky. However, the trio will likely still look just as spectacular.
The positions of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn on the night of Friday, October 15. Credit: Stellarium
Also, this isn't the only time we'll be seeing these objects teaming up this season.
Watch again around November 10 and then again around December 8 to see them grouped together, once again, in the hours just after sunset. Since the trio will be farther to the west in our sky at these times, look for Venus to join them as well — first at a distance in November, but then forming a close line-up in December.
Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and the Moon on November 10 and December 8, 2021. Credit: Stellarium