Jupiter in Opposition – best time to see Jupiter

The best time to see Jupiter, is now. Jupiter is in Opposition to the Sun - meaning the Earth stands right between these two celestial objects, so Jupiter is highly visible with the naked eye from dusk until dawn.

Jupiter is the second brightest planet in the sky, after Venus. However Venus is only visible for short time in the morning just now.

The closest bright star to Jupiter is Regulus, in the constellation of Leo the Lion. Jupiter shines over 30 times brighter than Regulus.

Jupiter is in opposition every 13 months. That's the amount of time it takes the Earth to travel around the sun, relative to Jupiter.

When Jupiter is in opposition as it is just now, it's as close as 664 million KM from us (around 413 million miles).

Just look to the East as sunset approaches, and you'll see Jupiter begin to shine.

Watch the following video to see where to find Jupiter as it passes through the night sky:

At midnight, it'll be at it's highest point in the night sky, dipping down to the horizon again in the West at sunrise.

How big is Jupiter

To get a sense of scale, Jupiter is so large it could hold all of the planets of our solar system within it. Or to put it another way, it would take more than one thousand Earths to fill it up!

In terms of diameter, it's around 1/10th of the diameter of the Sun, and the Earth is around 1/11th of the diameter of Jupiter:

SolarSystem OrdersOfMagnitude Sun-Jupiter-Earth-Moon

The Great Red Spot

One of Jupiters most prominent features is its Great Red Spot. It's actually a giant storm that is known to have existed since at least the 17th century, which is when it was first observed using a new device called a telescope.

We take them for granted these days - but 400 years ago, what they opened up for astronomers of the day was huge. They discovered objects (moons) orbiting other planets, which changed our whole view on the Earth being the centre of the universe!

790106-0203 Voyager 58M to 31M reduced

Moons of Jupiter

As of now, Jupiter has at least 67 moons. One of those, Ganymede, is larger than the planet Mercury!

Who discovered Jupiter's Moons

The other largest moons are called Io, Europa and Callisto. They were named Galilean moons after Galileo Galilei, who discovered them in 1609 or early 1610 after making some modifications to his telescope.

Jupiter spins faster than any other planet in our solar system, taking just under 10 hours to rotate, and its orbit around the Sun takes 11.86 of our years .

So whether you have a telescope, binoculars or just your naked eye, have a look for this stunning planet.

All the best, Mark​


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