A milestone for Jupiter means you could get an extra treat if you have binoculars


The largest planet in the solar system is Jupiter. That's the one you learned about in school with the Great Red Spot, a storm that's bigger than the Earth and has been raging since it was discovered nearly 400 years ago.

The planet reached something known as opposition late Monday morning. This means that when observed from Earth it's directly opposite the sun in the sky.

Simply put, we're sandwiched between the sun and Jupiter right now. Oppositions happen around the time that Earth and the planet are closest. In fact, Jupiter will be closest to Earth on Wednesday, June 12.

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All of this means that the planet is easier to see in the night sky. That also means it's four largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto are easier to spot as well.

These are known as the Galilean moons, named after their discoverer Galileo Galilei. A small telescope shows the group fairly well but you can even spot the Galilean satellites with a decent pair of binoculars right now!

Jupiter is also out from sundown to sunup which makes it easier to find as well. It rises in the east around sunset and sets in the west before sunrise.

The best time to see Jupiter will be around midnight when it's at its highest point in the sky. Look for it in the southern sky near the constellation Scorpius.

The good news is that Jupiter, and it's moons, will shine brightly for the rest of the month if you miss them when they're brightest. Happy hunting!