It is rare to have five consecutive nights of clear skies for star gazing. And, even more rare when those nights coincide with a special event I hope to photograph. The gods must have looked favorably on me. It started on 11 July 2019 with this view to the south-southeast at 9:44pm CDT. Far lower left was Saturn emerging from behind the bushes. Jupiter was proud above the trees. The overexposed Moon hovered at the right. I photographed this scene at 9:44pm over the course of the next four nights. The Moon tracked down to the left. Click for a better view.
Each night I also zoomed in on the Moon for a better exposure and to show its phase. That night’s Moon exposure was then superimposed onto the image above to show the progress from night-to-night.
This labeled version shows the dates and positions of the planets and Moon in case your viewing device makes it difficult to see.
The ecliptic is the plane the Sun appears to lie within as Earth orbits. The orbit of our Moon is inclined 5.1˚ to the ecliptic. Both Saturn and Jupiter have orbits closer to the ecliptic at 1.3˚ and 2.5˚ respectively. The inclination of the Moon’s orbit made it appear to pass between Jupiter and Saturn as it intersected the less inclined planes of their orbits. The 5.1˚ inclination also that makes our Moon appear higher or lower in the sky at different times of orbit. Have you noticed that?