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Jupiter shines brightly this week

Posted April 6

Jupiter at opposition: April 7

Throughout this week and next, Jupiter will be at its biggest and brightest.

This happens as the largest planet in our solar system reaches opposition on Friday, April 7. The following day, Jupiter will be at its closest to Earth this year, just 415 million miles away.

Opposition occurs when a planet is opposite the sun in our sky. This occurs every 13 months when the solar system is lined up so that Jupiter, Earth and the sun form a straight line with Earth in the middle.

Last year's opposition occurred on March 8, next year's will be on May 9.

Jupiter will be visible all night as it rises in the east at sunset, reaches its highest point in the sky around midnight and sets at sunrise. You cant miss it.

On April 6, look for the waxing gibbous to pass within a degree of the brilliant blue-white star Regulus, also known as the heart of the lion.

Leo is an easy constellation to find. Look to the east after sunset. Find what looks like a backward question mark, Regulus is at the bottom.

You might need to cover up the bright moon to see the other stars in Leo.

Leo Moon Regulus


Tony Rice is a volunteer in the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador program and software engineer at Cisco Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @rtphokie.

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