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Space

Jupiter hovers near the Moon in a rare astral vista

Jupiter’s moons have symbols and stories of their own – with their own meanings. The brightest, named by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, is mostly a place of wonderment, while the moons farther away are wistful and mysterious. Jupiter is well known for its many moons and its colorful clouds, but few people know just how big Jupiter is. A glance at the sky reveals that it circles the Sun every 8-9 years. And in this month’s issue of Sky & Telescope, we’ve picked out five stunning pictures from across the solar system where Jupiter appears to be near its eighth or ninth years on guard.

Jupiter is a planet of extremes and the main planet in our solar system. With its 63 moons and belts, Jupiter is a wonderland for astronomers who want to study space firsthand. This mosaic of images was compiled using data from four spacecraft that explored Jupiter and its atmosphere back in the summer of 2017 (Jun 17-Nov 15). Technically speaking, it’s a stacked picture made from multiple narrow-angle camera images that were taken at different times across three Juno orbits.

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Observing Jupiter, one of the solar system’s four largest planets and the largest planet in our solar system, is a rare opportunity. Viewing conditions are best when we catch Jupiter near the Moon, while it rises and sets at around 6 pm local time. Under good viewing conditions, you may see up to 30-second-long views of Jupiter or its four large Galilean moons. This photograph depicts Jupiter, the Solar System’s largest planet, near the Moon. It is an optical phenomenon called occultation. Occultations occur when a much closer object passes between a far more distant body and at its closest it blocks all or part of the light from an object behind it.

Kid-Friendly Jupiter

Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. It’s covered in swirling cloud stripes, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pretty sight. Jupiter has storms like the Great Red Spot, which has been going for hundreds of years. Jupiter hovers around the Moon in an exceptionally clear and breathtaking cloudscape. Jupiter is a gas giant, so it doesn’t have a solid surface but may have a solid inner core about the size of Earth. Jupiter also has rings, but they’re too faint to see very well.

Visible planets and night sky October 2022

Jupiter hovers near the Moon in this stunning night sky image captured by astrophotographer John Jardine Goss. A dark sky reveals the bright planet directly south of the Great Square of the constellation Pegasus. Between it and the bright planet is another group of faint stars known as the Circlet in Pisces.

Visible planets (evening)

Saturn is high in the sky after sunset – golden in color, shining steadily – perfect for observing all evening. Saturn sets around 2 a.m. local time.
Jupiter is brighter than all the stars. It’s ascending in the east after sunset, visible all night.
Mars rises in the east around 10 p.m. (that’s local time, the time on your clock). It’s very red now and brighter than most stars, racing towards its December 8 Position, when Earth will fly between Mars and the sun.

Visible planets (morning)

On October mornings, three bright planets arc across the sky: Mercury, Mars and Jupiter.
Mercury in early October is just beginning its best morning apparition of the year for Northern Hemisphere observers. You’ll find it bright in the east before sunup.
Jupiter spends all night arcing across the sky. It’s in the west before sunup, brighter than all the stars.
Mars shines down from high in the sky at sunup.

Where is Venus?

Venus, the brightest planet and next planet inward from Earth in orbit around the sun – will go behind the sun as seen from Earth on October 22. So Venus is hidden in the sun’s glare now. It’ll return to our evening sky before the year ends.

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