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Tonight might be the best night of the year to see Jupiter

12 June 2019

But according to NASA, June 10 (Monday) is the absolute best night to see our solar system's largest planet because it will reach opposition, an annual occurrence when Jupiter, Earth and the Sun are arranged in a straight line with Earth in the middle.

Lucky viewers might also "glimpse a hint of the banded clouds" that surround the planet, NASA said. Jupiter is known to have at least 79 moons, though it's possible more may be discovered with improved technology.

Whether you try to spot Jupiter this week or at any point over the next couple months, the planet will be visible at certain locations in the sky.

This places Jupiter directly opposite the sun, situated a mere 400,000,000 miles (641,000,000km) from Earth - and means Jupiter will be at its brightest over the next two nights.

Pierre Schierle, who serves as the president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Regina Centre, said if people happen to forget checking the sky for the gas giant this week, they will still be able to find it throughout the next couple months.

Though the gas giant starts to rise at dusk, it will likely be at its most visible around 11.30 p.m. for observers looking low in the southeast sky. Planets can be spotted because they don't twinkle like stars, they glow. After roughly 30 minutes to an hour, your eyes become fully dark-adapted, allowing you to make out faint objects in low light.

Resnick suggests using a smartphone app like Sky Guide to track Jupiter's progress across the night sky and pinpoint the best time to take out your binoculars. Waiting will also provide you with a darker sky.

The great thing about going out to view Jupiter - if you have clear skies - is that it's easy to spot: it is the second-brightest planet in our night sky, following only Venus. Jupiter will be high in the sky but mostly cloudy skies might infringe on any real viewing.

Between June 14 and 19, Jupiter will be at the center of another celestial event.

Even simple viewing tools like binoculars will suffice as Jupiter will be at its closest proximity to Earth during this event. Due to Jupiter's comparatively slower orbit around the Sun, Jupiter's opposition comes around once every 13 months.

Tonight might be the best night of the year to see Jupiter