This NASA sky map shows the location of Jupiter at 9pm on May 9, 2018. Local time. Jupiter will reach the opposition closest to Earth of the Year on May 8.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Skywatchers will see Jupiter on its brightest Tuesday (May 8), with the planet just opposite to the sun in our sky. Here you can catch a glimpse of the largest planet of the solar system.
Jupiter will rise in the eastern sky a few hours after sunset. Then the planet will be visible all night and glow so bright that you can see it with the naked eye when the weather permits. If you have a small telescope, you should be able to see cloud bands in the atmosphere of the gas giant, as well as its four largest moons (Ganymede, Callisto, Europe and Io). The moons appear as tiny, bright dots that change position every few hours or days. [The Brightest Planets in May̵
Jupiter in Opposition
The technical term for Jupiter's position in heaven is "opposition," which occurs when two astronomical objects are seen on opposite sides of the sky from Earth. We generally say that a planet is "in opposition" when it is opposed to the sun – in other words, when Jupiter rises shortly after sunset or vice versa.
Jupiter's next access to Earth will be on May 10, just days after the opposition. That's because the orbits of Earth and Jupiter are not perfect circles. "If the orbits of our planets were perfect circles, then we would be closest to Earth on the day the Earth passes between Jupiter and the Sun. But the orbit of Earth and the orbit of Jupiter are elliptical, like circles on which someone is pointing Posted in EarthSky
How to see Jupiter
According to timeanddate.com, observers in New York will see the sun set at 19.59 EDT Tuesday. Jupiter will rise a few minutes earlier at 19:48 clock. But the planet will not be immediately visible because the dusk sky is so bright in the east.
It is best to wait at least a few hours after sunset to search for Jupiter. The sky is getting darker and Jupiter will rise above the horizon where the earth's air is thickest. Jupiter will glide across the sky all night, starting in New York City on Wednesday (May 9) around 5:58 pm EDT.
You can visit timeanddate.com or use Skywatching software and apps like SkySafari to find the best time to see Jupiter for your location.
Editor's Note: If you take a big picture of Jupiter in the opposition, let us know! You can share photos for a potential story or gallery by sending pictures to email@example.com.
Seeing Other Planets
While out of planet hunting, try to discover Venus, another target that is so bright you can see it with the naked eye.
Walk around sunset and look deep west. Venus will appear as a bright, white light in the western sky.
On May 17, Venus will appear next to the setting moon, and on May 18, Venus will still be near the Moon. If you look down and to the left of Venus, you might see the reddish star Beteigeuze (a red supergiant star), which is very close to the horizon.
You can also see two other planets in the sky if you know where to look. The next week you go out just before dawn and look to the south for the constellation Sagittarius. (It looks a bit like a teapot.) If you look right over the top of the teapot, you can see Saturn, the planet with giant rings in our solar system, after Sky & Telescope. Saturn and Sagittarius links will likely see a bright red object. That's Mars.
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and scientists are keen to learn more. By studying Jupiter, they can predict the weather and the composition of large extrasolar planets. Jupiter hosts a big storm, the Great Red Spot, which shrinks for unknown reasons and could disappear in 20 years.
The planet also has a strong magnetic field. A NASA mission called Juno is studying Jupiter's atmosphere, magnetic field and composition. In the 2020s and 2030s, both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning missions to study some of Jupiter's icebergs that could harbor microbial life. The NASA mission is called Europa Clipper, and the ESA is called JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer).
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