A Huge, Super Bright Jupiter Reaches Opposition This Month
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and the largest one that's visible from Earth with the naked eye. The gas giant will be even easier to spot on July 13 and 14—that's when Jupiter reaches opposition, making it appear extra bright in the night sky.
What Is Jupiter at opposition?
Once a year, the Earth comes between Jupiter and the sun. During this time, Jupiter is at opposition to the sun, which means that from our planet, Jupiter appears to rise in the east as the sun sets in the west. On the night of July 13 and early morning of July 14, 2020, the sun will be in the perfect position to fully illuminate Jupiter's gaseous surface.
The planet reached the closest point to Earth in its orbit less than a month ago on June 15, which means Jupiter looks especially large in the sky this month. That, combined with its exceptional brightness, makes the opposition of Jupiter the best time of year to see the planet from wherever you are.
When to See Jupiter at Opposition
To see Jupiter at its brightest, wait until the sun has completely set and the sky is dark on the night of Saturday, July 13. The moment of opposition occurs at 4 a.m. ET on July 14, but the planet will be brighter than usual in the hours—and even days—surrounding the event.
After rising in the east, Jupiter will reach its highest point in the sky around midnight and eventually disappear in the western sky. Look for it next to Saturn and in front of the constellation Sagittarius.