Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 09:43 PM EDT

Jupiter and Its Moons Set to Put on Astronomical Show

Mar 03, 2015 02:11 PM EST


In February, Mars and Venus put on quite a show in the skies above.  Determined not to be outdone, Jupiter, the fifth and largest planet in our solar system, will put on a show of its own along with its moons during the month of March.

While Mars and Venus drew sky gazers' attention in February, Jupiter was also be visible for the the Month of March; not as bright but still visible to the naked eye.  Amateur astronomers using a simple medium telescope will also be able to catch a glimpse of the planet and its moons along with a band of clouds surrounding the planet.  On Feb. 6, Jupiter reached its opposition, meaning it was directly opposite the sun.  The 2015 opposition was the closest Jupiter will come to earth until 2019.  In March, it will not shine as bright but will still provide a clear view of itself for those that look to the skies. 

Jupiter will shine as a bright object in the western sky beginning at nightfall and will remain visible during the night.  When night falls, sky gazers will be able to catch a glimpse of Venus in the western sky and Jupiter in the east, with Jupiter presenting itself as the second brightest visible planet after Venus.

While you will easily see Jupiter with the naked eye, a decent pair of binoculars or a telescope will provide you with a much more detailed show.  With the aid of these devices you should easily be able to view four moons of Jupiter including Callisto, Europa, Ganymede and Io, which are named after Galileo, who discovered them in 1610.

To make sure Jupiter doesn't take all the viewing glory this month, Saturn will also be making an appearance.  Rising in the southeast approximately an hour after midnight in the beginning of March and appearing about an hour before midnight during the latter part of the month.

"Watch for the waning moon to shine within the vicinity of Saturn for a few days, centered on Mar. 12," stated EarthSky.

Unfortunately, Saturn will not be bright enough to catch a glimpse of Saturn's impressive system of rings with binoculars, but they can be viewed with the help of a small telescope.

Unfortunately, your local weather will also greatly impact your viewing experience.  A clear sky will be required for the best viewing experience that could be hampered by even small cloud cover.

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