"Jupiter is at opposition", at least it was last week. That means Jupiter is directly opposite the Sun in the sky and Earth is in between. It also means that Jupiter is as close to Earth as it will get in many years. It's about 355 million miles away! It's also a really big planet, 86,000 miles across or 11 times wider than our precious Earth, which allows us to see it.
Some have said that last Tuesday was the best night to see Jupiter and that we won't see it like this again in years. Well check out this brief article in Discover Magazine to get the skinny on that. I will say, we'll probably be hard pressed to see it hand-in-hand with a full Moon again any time soon.
This is what the Moon and Jupiter looked like over Pleasant Bay on Cape Cod last Wednesday, just 8-9 hours before the moon was completely full. Jupiter is the small bright light directly below the Moon. Pretty special in my book! And, we did see Jupiter the next night too, standing proudly to the Moon's right.
Click on each photo to expand it further.
For those of you who are interested, Peter took these photographs with a Nikon COOLPIX P90 on a tripod with time exposure, no flash, and a wide angle setting. They were both taken at f2.8, 2.0sec, with ISO 200.