- Jupiter will be at its most visible on May 8.
- The planet will be in opposition to the sun, which means it’ll be on the exact opposite side of Earth to the sun.
- Your best chance of getting a glimpse will be around 1:00 a.m. on May 8th when the gas giant is due south.
Space-watchers, get excited: Jupiter is about to be closer to Earth than it has been for years, and it’ll make for some prime viewing.
The gas giant will be in “opposition” during the nighttime hours of May 8th, which means it’ll be on the exact opposite side of Earth to the sun. Jupiter will also swing within 409 million miles of Earth – 5 million miles closer than last year’s opposition – making the planet shine extra bright in the sky, according to National Geographic.
The effect of opposition is similar to how we see the moon at its fullest and brightest each month when our planet is positioned directly between the moon and the sun. While Jupiter will be in exact opposition on May 8th, you can see what amounts to a “full Jupiter” for the entire month of May.
On May 8th, you’ll be able to see Jupiter as a bright white spot in the sky with only your eyes. With binoculars or a telescope, you’ll be able to Jupiter’s full complement of moons, as well as some of the gas giant’s famous storms, including the Great Red Spot.
While the planet will be one of the brightest spots in the night sky all night, your best chance of catching it in its full celestial glory at 1:10 a.m. EDT, when it will be positioned due south, according to The Washington Post. Jupiter will rise toward the southeast around 8 p.m. and won’t set until 6:18 a.m., just after sunrise.
Scientists are busy learning as much as they can about Jupiter from NASA’s Juno probe. While the mission is set to end in July, scientists are hopeful they’ll get to continue exploring the planet.