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The Sky Tonight Update: Jupiter at Opposition

jupiter at opposition

This May 8th, 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. 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.

From Baton Rouge it will be visible between 20:19 and 05:45. It will become accessible at around 20:19, when it rises 7° above your south-eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:04, 43° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 05:45 when it sinks to 8° above your south-western horizon.

This optimal positioning occurs when Jupiter is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time.

At around the same time that Jupiter passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest.

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