Starting on May 8, our solar systems largest planet entered into an orbital phase that brings it the closest it comes in the course of its celestial trek.
Throughout the month, Jupiter will appear a bit bigger and a bit brighter, writes IFL Science. That is because it will be ‘only’ 409 million miles from earth, 5 million miles closer than its last close pass in 2017.
On May 8th, the planet was aligned directly opposite the sun, making it on the “exact opposite side of Earth to the sun.”
Opposition helps in viewing the stars and can best be understood when considering how “we see the moon at its fullest and brightest each month when our planet is positioned directly between the moon and the sun,” explains IFL Science.
If you missed out on the 8th viewing, don’t sweat it. Jupiter will be in its ‘full complement’ for the rest of May before beginning its orbiting journey away from Earth.
During this time viewers will be able to see the planet with their own eyes, but with binoculars or a telescope they will have a chance to view the planet and all of its moons. And for the lucky ones, earthbound gazers may also see the large storms on Jupiter, including the Great Red Spot.
IFL Science adds that “Scientists are busy learning as much as they can about Jupiter from NASA’s Juno probe. While the mission is set to end in July, scientists are hopeful they’ll get to continue exploring the planet.”
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