Mar 1, 2016 2:35 PM

Joe Knows: Be sure to look up and check out Jupiter as it shines bright in March

NH1 Digital Content Manager - NH1.com

Jupiter, the largest of the planets in our Solar System, is now it is shining at it’s best.

It comes to full opposition on March 8, when it is on the opposite side of the sky to the Sun.

This means it will be visible for the whole night, rising soon after sunset as the sky is darkening. Look for the dazzling white object in the East-Southeast sky after sunset.

Jupiter will appear 3 times brighter than the brightest star in the sky!

If you really want to get fancy, try to see Jupiter’s moons! A small pair of binoculars will show that Jupiter is a little disc, not a star. Hold them steady, perhaps by leaning against a wall, and you will see up to four star-like points to either side of the brilliant glare of the planet, like a string of beads.

These are the four large Galilean moons of Jupiter, named after Galileo who spotted them through his first telescope.

Jupiter is simply an enormous ball of hydrogen and helium that is 88,846 miles in diameter with no solid surface. In reality, it is more like a star than a planet. The distance between Earth and Jupiter is is a measly 390,674,710 miles.

It is amazing how the light from the sun will be bouncing/reflecting off of Jupiter and traveling all that distance from Jupiter back to our eyes!

Joe Joyce is the Chief Meteorologist for NH1 News. You can email him at jjoyce@nh1.com and follow him on Twitter, @JoeJoyceNH1.

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