On Display Now: Jupiter Easy to Spot

On Display Now: Jupiter Easy to Spot
SKY MAP: Jupiter as of 9 p.m. local time from mid-northern latitudes. It rises higher as the night goes on.

That incredibly bright star in the eastern evening sky is no star at all. It's Jupiter. The gas giant planet is closer to Earth than normal now, and it outshines all stars.

Jupiter is easy to find. Just go outside after sunset and look East. It is the brightest point of light up there. To Jupiter's left is the bright star Arcturus. Below Jupiter is Spica, another fairly bright star. [Sky map]

Astronomers measure brightness on an inverted scale. The dimmest stars visible are around magnitude 6.5, and very bright objects are magnitude 1 or so. Negative numbers are reserved for the brightest objects.

Some magnitudes to compare:

  • Jupiter: minus 2.46
  • Arcturus: minus 0.07
  • Spica: plus 0.96

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