Tonight (April 7), Jupiter will be making an especially close pass of Earth – close being relative, of course. At a distance of 414 million miles, anyone who can get to a spot with good seeing conditions and very little light pollution should bring along a pair of binoculars or a telescope that’s suitable for observing the planets. As you can see in the above video, Hubble Telescope took the opportunity to get some spectacular shots of Jupiter just a few days ago and so can you if you have some experience with astrophotography and can get to a good spot.
Observers with a good telescope may be able to make out the Great Red Spot and the four Galilean moons to the east and west of the planet. Observers who keep an eye on the moons for the next couple of nights may see them move relative to Jupiter.
Jupiter is currently opposite the sun, which basically means that the sun won’t be in the way when astronomy enthusiasts want to view it. Jupiter will rise in the east at sunset and be at its highest point in the night sky at midnight, and then set in the west at sunrise. (And it’s Friday, so it’s not like the boss will care if you overslept because you spent most of the night watching Jupiter, am I right?)
Viewing is forecast to be especially good in the southern United States tonight. Other regions in the United States may see partly cloudy skies or poor weather. So don’t forget to check the weather report before you set up our telescope.
Also Don’t Miss…
The Lyrid meteor shower is expected to be visible April 16-25 and peak on April 22. Because the moon will be waning during this time, moonlight is less likely to interfere with viewing and observers will be able to spot more meteors per hour. Look in the Northeast in the proximity of the constellation Lyra during the evening. The radiant point will be near the bright star Vega.