Jupiter can be observed in the night sky without a telescope for much of the year. If you don’t often gaze at the largest planet in our solar system when the Sun goes down, you should make a point to next week: That’s the best time to see Jupiter in 2019, as Newsweek reports.
On Monday, June 10, the planet will reach its brightest state of the year when viewed from Earth. It will appear above the horizon around twilight and remain clearly visible in the sky for the rest of the night. The celestial treat is the result of something called opposition. This happens when the Earth falls directly between the Sun and Jupiter, creating optimal conditions for the gas giant to shine brightly in the night sky.
Jupiter is also exceptionally close to us this time of year. On Wednesday, June 12, it will be just 398 million away—the shortest distance between Jupiter and Earth we’ll see in all of 2019.
These ideal conditions will also make Jupiter’s satellites more visible than they normally are. Though the planet itself can be seen with the naked eye, a small telescope or binoculars could enable you to spot one of Jupiter’s four largest moons: Ganymede, Europa, Callisto, or Io. The planet’s signature cloud stripes may also be visible with viewing aids.
Jupiter’s opposition isn’t the only sky-gazing event to look forward to as the months get warmer: On July 2, 2019, the first total solar eclipse in two years will occur.