Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, will take an outsized place in our night sky on Tuesday, May 8.
Head outside after sunset this evening and look to the east. You’ll likely see a bright “star” standing out against a backdrop of dim objects high in the sky.
According to NASA, Wednesday marks opposition for Jupiter, meaning that it’s directly opposite the sun in the sky from Earth’s perspective.
“Wait a few hours after sunset, when Jupiter is higher in the sky, for the best views,” NASA said in a skywatching video. “If you viewed Jupiter last month, expect the view to be even better this month.”
Assuming the sky is cloud-free, interested skywatchers should be able to spot Jupiter with the naked eye, but the really amazing details will pop out when you look through a telescope.
Even a backyard scope or binoculars will help stargazers see Jupiter’s cloud bands and a smattering of the largest of the planet’s more than 50 named moons.
It’s a pretty strange experience to see Jupiter up-close for the first time. The huge world somehow looks more real in a telescope’s eyepiece than in any photo you may have seen in the past.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to see Jupiter through a telescope or binoculars, you can always search for an amateur astronomy meet up in your area. Meet other stargazers and take a peek through their telescopes!
If you’re more of a loner but want information about what you’re seeing in the night sky, use an app like Star Walk to map out the scene above you.
As you’re looking for Jupiter this week, spare a thought for NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which is exploring the giant world right now.
Juno is designed to dive down toward Jupiter’s cloud tops and pick out intricate details of the planet’s atmosphere. The spacecraft has also been used to learn more about the planet’s interior and even auroras at the poles.
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Copyright or Author: Miriam Kramer
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