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Associated Press, Published September 19 2010

Jupiter will be most visible Monday night

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Better catch Jupiter next week in the night sky. It won’t be that big or bright again until 2022. Jupiter will pass 368 million miles from Earth late Monday, its closest approach since 1963. You can see it low in the east around dusk. Around midnight, it will be directly overhead. That’s because Earth will be passing between Jupiter and the sun, into the wee hours of Tuesday.

The solar system’s largest planet already appears as an incredibly bright star – three times brighter than the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. The only thing brighter in the night sky right now is our moon. Binoculars and telescopes will dramatically improve the view as Jupiter, along with its many moons, rises in the east as the sun sets.

“Jupiter is so bright right now, you don’t need a sky map to find it,” said Tony Phillips, a California astronomer under contract with NASA. “You just walk outside and see it. It’s so eye-catching, there it is.”

Coincidentally, Uranus also will make a close approach the same night. It will appear close to Jupiter but harder to see with the naked eye. Through a telescope, it will shine like an emerald-colored disk less than one degree from Jupiter.


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