Tonight will be the best night of the year to gaze upon Jupiter and its many moons as the Earth, Jupiter and the sun all line up in a row, making the gas planet appear brighter.
Jupiter reaches this position—called opposition because it’s opposite of the sun—once every 13 months; it’s also near its closest distance to the Earth, which will make the planet seem even bigger.
Brian Resnick, Vox’s science reporter, offers tips for optimal Jupiter-viewing:
You should be able to observe Jupiter and its four brightest moons—Io, Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede (you can see these on many clear nights)—with a pair of binoculars. And with a telescope, you could be able to see a few of the individual cloud belts on Jupiter, and perhaps even the Great Red Spot.
During opposition, Jupiter will rise at dusk in the southeastern sky (northeastern if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere), and will stay in the sky until dawn. I suggest using a smartphone app, like Sky Guide, to find and track it for yourself.
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and boasts an impressive collection of 79 moons.
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