Jupiter is currently at the closest point to Earth for the whole year.
Not only has the orbit of the biggest planet in our solar system brought it into our vicinity, but it’s also in opposition to the sun.
So it’s big, bright and so in theory you’ll be able to see it from your back garden this week with the naked eye. If you’ve got a pair of binoculars to hand, you may also spot the planet’s four largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Jupiter will rise in the southern sky at dusk and will be visible as a bright dot all night long.
Providing the weather doesn’t get in the way.
Which, according to the Met Office, it will…
So even though Nasa has assured us that this week is literally the best time of the entire year to witness a celestial jewel of our solar system, we’ll be looking up at clouds. Again.
‘Jupiter reaches opposition on June 10. This is the yearly occurrence when Jupiter, Earth and the Sun are arranged in a straight line, with Earth in the middle. It’s the best time of the year to see Jupiter, as the planet is visible in the sky all night, and it’s around the time when Jupiter is closest to Earth,’ the space agency said.
‘Although opposition takes place on a specific date, the entire month or so around opposition is an equally good time to observe the planet and its four largest moons.’
Still, at least Brian Cox’s new TV show The Planets is on tonight. So if you’re astronomically-minded you can stay in and watch Jupiter on that instead.
And finally, here’s your pub quiz fun fact: Jupiter has a mass that’s two-and-a-half times all the other planets in the solar system combined.
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