Excerpt from pressofatlanticcity.com
These next two weeks Jupiter is at its brightest and biggest while Venus and Mars are pulling together. And the International Space Station makes some great passes.
Jupiter and the full moon. The exciting sights start tonight. If the sky is clear enough, we can see the exactly full moon rise with now brilliant Jupiter to its left. The precise time of this full moon is
6:09 p.m. By then, it has climbed above the eastern horizon and the sky has darkened enough for us to see Jupiter as a bright point of light directly to the left of it.
The two are not extremely close together (a bit more than half the width of your fist at arm’s length apart), but they are so bright that their pairing is very impressive. Watch them stay together as they journey from east to west during the course of the entire night.
Jupiter at its best. The moon rises an average of an hour later each night. But for the next few weeks, Jupiter keeps rising around sunset, being highest at midnight, and setting around sunrise. In 2015, this is also the time of year when sun, Earth and Jupiter are approximately lined up, and Jupiter is therefore closest to Earth. That means Jupiter appears its brightest and, in telescopes, its biggest.
Notice that a fairly bright star rises about an hour after Jupiter and pursues the planet across the sky. That is Regulus, the star that marks the heart of noble Leo the Lion. If skies are clear Thursday evening, the moon is rather near Regulus and can help you identify the star.
Not all of us have access to a telescope. But if you do, Jupiter looks fantastic. I’ll be discussing the telescopic view of Jupiter in upcoming columns. And if you don’t have a telescope, I’ll be telling you about several public events where you can get good views through telescopes for free…