See Jupiter And Its Moons This Week While It’s Closest To Earth

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 11, 2019

If you look up and see something extraordinarily brilliant, shining but not twinkling, above the horizon, rest assured it is Jupiter.

Jupiter is closer to Earth than it will be at any time this year, because the planet is at opposition; meaning the Earth is right between the Sun and Jupiter.

The planet has 53 named moons but scientists think the real number is 79. The planet will rise in the east and track across the southern sky as the night progresses before setting in the west.

Jupiter's four moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Those with binoculars would be able to see the shape of the planet and its four brightest moons - those discovered by Galileo, he noted - while a telescope would afford more detail. Although the precise moment of opposition will take place at 6 p.m. Planets can be spotted because they don't twinkle like stars, they glow. Even when it is low down, it will look pretty steady, and that will make it stand out.

This event only happens once every 13 months, but Jupiter will remain quite visible the entire month surrounding opposition.

Though Jupiter will get high enough in the sky to be seen around Anchorage, the city is in the 28 day period where it doesn't really get dark. But you will need to keep your binoculars steady. Waiting will also provide you with a darker sky.

Don't worry if the weather is too cloudy or rainy to skywatch on Monday. (Considering the fact that widespread clouds and rain are currently poised to obscure stargazing opportunities across the eastern United States, you may actually enjoy a better view on a later, clearer night.) And even if you miss this year's Jupiter opposition, you'll have another opportunity 13 months from now in July 2020. If you miss this chance, you can still catch images of Jupiter captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft, which is now orbiting the massive planet.

Between June 14 and 19, Jupiter will be at the center of another celestial event. This will allow you to see where each moons can be found in relation to the planet. This will make it easier to see Jupiter's moons, which are very faint compared to the planet.

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