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

Starry Night software brings the universe to your desktop. Map the sky from your location, or just sit back and let the cosmos come to you.

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Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.