Jupiter Rising

Hey, sky fans. If you’re having a hard time pulling yourself out of bed early enough to see the planets lined up across the sky, you can get a little taste, an amuse bouche, if you will (I… I wish I hadn’t). Jupiter is rising early enough in the evening these days to make its way more than halfway across the sky by dawn. So, if you look to the east around in mid-late evening, you can see it rising, bright and, I’m told, green.

It’s a gorgeous sight, and if you have even a small pair of binoculars it’s even better. Its four big moons: Io; Callisto; Ganymede; and Europa — the Galilean Moons — are the only moons, other than our own, that can be seen from Earth without fancy equipment. They’ll appear as four pinpoints of light lined up against the planet’s equator.

As the night goes on, Jupiter will make its way across the sky, and, one by one, it’ll be followed by Mars, Saturn, Venus, and finally Mercury, like knots in a magician’s handkerchief. If you’ve ever had the pleasure, with the help of maybe a little bit of insomnia, to see the moon rise in the evening and then set clear across the sky the following morning, this is for you. You won’t get to see Jupiter set; it’ll be too bright and sunny by then, but the view you’ll have is no less incredible.

If it’s still too late for you, Jupiter will be rising a couple of minutes earlier each day for a while, which puts it up where you can see it well earlier and earlier.

It’s time for me to finish my beer and tune out. Clear skies, everyone!

Jupiter and the Galilean Moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto)

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