Moon near Jupiter April 28 to 30

Look up! You’ll see a very bright “star” – really the planet Jupiter – near the moon.

These next several evenings – April 28-30, 2018 – watch for a brilliant “star” close to the very bright moon. It’s no star at all, but the giant planet Jupiter, largest world in our solar system. The April 29 full moon will be close to Jupiter, and the April 30 moon even closer.

With or without the moon, you’ll find Jupiter climbing into the evening sky about an hour after sunset. This planet will soon reach its yearly opposition, when Earth will fly between Jupiter and the sun, gaining a lap on the planet for this year. Jupiter’s opposition will come on May 9, 2018.

At opposition, Jupiter rises in the east as the sun sets in the west. It’ll be out all night, from dusk until dawn. Since we’ll be generally closest to it, it’ll be the best time to observe Jupiter with a telescope, and even good-quality, steadily held binoculars should let you glimpse the ever-changing dance of Jupiter’s moons.

Opposition happens when Earth flies between an outer planet, like Jupiter, and the sun. This happens yearly for most of the outer planets (with Mars being the exception). Illustration via Heavens Above.

One last thing … it’s fun to stand outside in a fairly level spot, where you can see the horizons, and watch Jupiter and Venus in late April 2018. As Earth spins under the sky, Venus is now descending in the west as Jupiter ascends in the east. Around now, if you have an unobstructed view of the sky, you should easily see the sky’s two brightest planets – Venus in the west, and Jupiter in the east – as night falls.

It’s Kristina Tau pointing skyward – from the vantage point of Haleakala National Park in Hawaii – in this March 19, 2018 photo of the moon and Venus by Leo Parias.

Bottom line: Watch for Jupiter near the moon April 28 to 30, 2018.

Deborah Byrd

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