NOW IS THE TIME TO OBSERVE JUPITER.
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL CASSINI Space probe: CLICK for larger size photo and see below for links and information.
Those with telescopes and binoculars, NOW is the time to observe the first of the gas giants and the 1st Jovian planet; Jupiter as it reaches opposition on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at precisely 2101 UTC (16:01 EST). This is your best chance to see Jupiter until it reaches opposition again on February 9, 2015 (About 400 days or 13 month cycles).
Actually with the current new moon and yet another one at the end of the month, Jupiter will be primed for observing through early February. At opposition Jupiter will be approximately 4.1 AU from earth (4 times the distance of Earth from the Sun) and will reach an apparent magnitude of -2.7 with a disk of 46.8” arcseconds in size (For example, Mars at opposition will reach only 15” arcseconds in size and the average Full Moon is just over 2000” arcseconds). Look for it, if you haven’t already noticed the bright object, in the constellation Gemini rising in the east at sunset.
Opposition, in planetary terms is when a superior (outer) planet reaches a point exactly opposite the Sun from Earth’s vantage point. Another way to say it is Earth will be directly between the Sun and Jupiter. That pretty much places Jupiter at its closest point that it can get to the earth in its orbit. This is the first major opposition of 2014 and hey, IT’S JUPITER; so get out there and check it out while the Moon is dark and the planet is close.
Any questions at all, please ask!
EarthSky article on this event: http://earthsky.org/tonight/earth-passes-between-jupiter-and-sun-on-january-5-2014
In-The-Sky article on this event: http://in-the-sky.org/news.php?id=20140105_14_100
Naked Eye Planets, Jupiter page: http://www.nakedeyeplanets.com/jupiter.htm
Universe Today page for this event: http://www.universetoday.com/107415/tis-the-season-to-spot-jupiter-a-guide-to-the-2014-opposition/
Curt Renz Jupiter Opposition page: http://www.curtrenz.com/jupiter01.html
NASA Cassini page for this photo: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia04866.html