The Sky Tonight Update: Jupiter at Opposition

The giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long within the constellation Sagittarius.  It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight.

This happens because when Jupiter lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that Jupiter, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Jupiter.

This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter’s cloud bands.

A good pair of binoculars should allow you to see Jupiter’s four largest moons, appearing as bright dots on either side of the planet.

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