On February 6, 2015, Jupiter comes closest to Earth on its opposition date, coming to within 404 million miles (650 million kilometers) of Earth. Earth passes more or less between the sun and Jupiter, placing Jupiter opposite the sun in our sky. Astronomers call this event an opposition of Jupiter.
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On the night of opposition, Jupiter will be a mere stone’s throw from Earth — about 405 million miles. It will remain a dominant star-like object in our evening sky from now through spring and summer.
Steady binoculars or any small telescope will reveal Jupiter’s four traveling companions, discovered by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610. They are the four largest of Jupiter’s family of 67 moons; their names are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
The moon will also be brighter after the full moon day of Feb 3 and the sight of Jupiter will be a phenomenon to watch in the night sky on February 6.
So, don’t miss the full Snow Moon rising right alongside Jupiter after sunset on Tuesday night and then a little east of Jupiter by Wednesday night. The full Crow Moon will return for an encore performance with Jupiter on March 2.
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