A treat in the night sky this week

Sky viewing conditions tonight: GOOD to EXCELLENT
Moon rise: 1:02 p.m.
Moon set: 1:19 a.m.
Moon phase: First Quarter, 53% illumination

What to look for in the night sky tonight (and the rest of the week!)

Skies are clearing, thanks to a nice June cold front, and we are in for quiet the treat in our night sky! Many of you have spotted that bright “star” in the night sky for the past couple of months. That is not a star but Jupiter! Now, it’s so close you will be able to spot at least four of its 79 moons using only a pair of binoculars.

You can pretend your Galileo, rediscovering the four brightest moons of Jupiter–Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Incidentally, Europa is one of the more intriguing bodies in our universe. We are all but certain that it has an icy surface that is covering an ocean. In fact, there is strong evidence of flowing water on parts of that moon.

If tonight’s sky doesn’t cooperate don’t despair, any night this week will do! Just look southeast and upward. Jupiter rises at about 8:00 p.m. but it will be best viewed once it gets higher in the sky. I’d start looking for this at about 9:00 p.m., with the better viewing coming the later in the night we go. I’ve read that some astronomy sites are suggesting midnight as the perfect time, but any time up until that time and after that time will be good too. Go out and look up!

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