The first two celestial objects to light up the evening twilight on April 6 are the moon and the giant planet Jupiter. You should easily see both of them, starting at dusk, as these brilliant beauties rank as the brightest and second-brightest heavenly bodies in the April 2014 evening sky.
When it comes to Jupiter, remember the number 5. Jupiter is the fifth planet outward from the sun, residing a little more than five times the Earth’s distance from the sun. Today, Jupiter lies equally far from the sun and Earth: 5.2 astronomical units. The astronomical unit = the Earth/sun distance, which is approximately equal to 150,000,000 kilometers (93,000,000 miles).
This giant world rotates once upon its axis in a little less than ten hours. That’s truly astonishing. A point on the Earth’s equator rotates about 1,670 kilometers (1,040 miles) per hour. On Jupiter, it’s around 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles) per hour.
The giant planet Jupiter has a diameter that’s 11 times greater than Earth’s. However, Jupiter’s surface area is 121 times greater (11 x 11 = 121), and Jupiter’s volume is 1,331 times greater (11 x 11 x 11 = 1,331). Just to think, the sun’s diameter spans 10 Jupiter diameters.
Bottom line: Enjoy the spectacle in the evening sky after sunset on April 6, 2014, as the moon guides your eye to the giant planet Jupiter!