Catch Jupiter Tonight!

CaptureIf you have never observed Jupiter — or at least have never knowingly observed Jupiter — this is the time to do it. It is easy, in fact so easy that I do not have to give any detailed other than this:

If it is clear, go out tonight and look to the South-southeast at about 10 pm local time. Other than street lights and airplanes, the brightest thing you will see in the sky is Jupiter. Period, that’s it.

No fancy equipment required. That bright, start-like dot is Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System and currently some 641 million miles from Earth. You should also be able to see the bright star Antares a bit to the right. Antares is in Scorpius the Scorpion. (Antares is a red supergiant star, the 16th brightest star e sky. It shines at a distance of about 604 light years, or very roughly, 3.55 X 10^15  or 3.55 thousand million million miles! For more see: Antares on EarthSky.com.)

Jupiter2If you have a small telescope or even a very good pair of binoculars (and steady hands), you also may be able to see several tiny star-like points of light clustered very close around Jupiter. These are its “Galilean Satellites,” so named because they were first discovered and recorded by Galileo Galilei.

By the way, even though Jupiter will be easy to see all Summer, it is at it brightest right now (June 10, 2019). The satellites (moons) of Jupiter, change their positions every night (in fact you may notice some changes from hour to hour). On some evenings you can see all four, but on others one or more may be passing behind Jupiter and out of sight. For the record, Jupiter has many more moons — currently the total is 79 — but all but these 4 are too dim to be seen without at least a medium sized telescope, and in fact quite a few are known only from space probes.

So take a look.

(Charts courtesy of Stellarium)

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About Starman

Cosmic Awareness Facilitator. Astronomy, space, physics, science, planets, cosmology, reason, logic, clouds, sky phenomena, the environment, dogs and other animals, and other interesting stuff.
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