Jupiter and Our Moon will Put on Celestial Show Tonight; Don't Miss it! (Video)

First Posted: Feb 18, 2013 08:18 AM EST

Don't miss the celestial show tonight between our moon and the largest planet in our solar system. Jupiter, currently the brightest planet in our sky, is set to pass the moon this evening--and you should easily be able to see it with your naked eye.

Since November, Jupiter has made an appearance with the moon every month. The most recent conjunction of the two celestial bodies occurred on Jan. 21, when the moon appeared to skim just below the planet. However, Jupiter didn't make its closest approach until this morning at 7 a.m. EST. Since both bodies were below the horizon in North America, though, the best way to see the two will be tonight.

Jupiter is the most massive planet in our solar system. It possesses dozens of moons and an enormous magnetic field, which allows it to form a kind of miniature solar system of its own. Although it resembles a star in composition, it did not grow big enough to ignite. The surface of the planet itself consists of massive swirling storms, including the Great Red Spot, which has raged for hundreds of years.

Tonight, the moon will be in its gibbous phase and will appear about six degrees to the left (east) of Jupiter. The planet itself will be the brightest "star" in the sky, possessing more than two and a half times the brightness of Sirius, which is the brightest true star. Unlike a real star, Jupiter will not "twinkle" and will instead shine with a steady silvery glow. Sirius, in contract, scintillates with a bluish-white glow.

Although Jupiter will be visible all night long, it will set in the west around 1:30 a.m. EST.

If you miss the show, though, don' worry. Jupiter will be back again on May 28, when it will have a stunning rendezvous with Venus.

Don't feel like staying up? Check out the show in the video below, taken in California.

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

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