The largest planet in the solar system Jupiter glitters at night because of its closeness to the moon, a mere 3.5 degree. From the Earth, both the moon and Jupiter will look as if they lie on the same plane. This celestial phenomenon can be seen for several hours on Tuesday night.
If your sky is clear, you simply can't miss Jupiter tonight. Jupiter is that blazing point of light near tonight's waxing gibbous moon.
In fact, Jupiter ranks as the second brightest celestial object to light up the evening sky – after the moon. Jupiter will continue to appear as the brightest starlike object in the evening sky from now until the end of the year.
Jupiter, the 5th planet outward from the sun, is definitely the king planet in our solar system. The volume of Jupiter exceeds that of our planet Earth by some 1,300 times.
Jupiter's mass is more than twice the mass of all the other solar system planets combined. Even though Jupiter looks puny next to the moon, that's only because the moon is so much closer to us than Jupiter is.
Tonight, the moon lies a bit more than 400,000 kilometers – or nearly 250,000 miles – away from Earth. That's only about 1.3 light-seconds distant. In contrast, Jupiter resides some 39 light-minutes away. Despite Jupiter's great distance, this world still shines brightly in our sky.
The cloud cover surrounding this giant world efficiently reflects sunlight, making Jupiter the 4th brightest object in the heavens – after the sun, moon and the planet Venus.
A backyard telescope reveals Jupiter's 4 major moons. These moons are called the Galilean moons, and in their outward order from Jupiter, they are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. This evening, let our moon guide you to dazzling Jupiter, the kinpin planet of the solar system!