Stargazing: Jupiter at its brightest

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Jupiter and the sun are now on opposite sides of the sky. Astronomers call this "opposition." During opposition, the sun, Earth and Jupiter are lined up in a straight line with the Earth in the middle.

The Jovian giant currently rises in the east around sunset, hovers at its highest point in the south around midnight, and sets in the west around sunrise. Jupiter is also shining at a dazzling bright --2.7 magnitude in the center of Gemini.

To locate Jupiter this week, step outside around 7:30 p.m. and face east. The king of the planets is the brightest object in the eastern sky and can be found about 30 degrees above the horizon.

Because Jupiter is positioned high above the celestial equator in Gemini, the planet should offer stunning views through a telescope this winter. Its higher altitude will allow its light to travel through much less of Earth's turbulent and blurring atmosphere. The best time for telescopic observations will be around 10 p.m.


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