Jupiter will be spectacular in the sky for an extended time period according to an expert astronomer.

Mike Murray, Program Director at the Delta College Planetarium in Bay City, says the large size of Jupiter and the huge distance from Earth gives us plenty of nights to look at the banded giant.

He recommends looking at Jupiter this week because of the position of opposition. Opposition is when Jupiter and Earth are on the same side of the sun. This makes Jupiter appear in the east-southeast as the sun sets in the west. Murray likes this time to view Jupiter because you don’t have to stay up late at night to see the giant planet.

Jupiter is only 367 million miles from Earth right now according to NASA. At its farthest distance from Earth, Jupiter is 600 million miles away.

Murray says that Jupiter will be spectacular in the eastern sky for about two months. The difference each night will be that Jupiter will rise later and later. Eventually near the end of the year we will have to stay up late to see Jupiter.

I also like the fact that it’s not a one night viewing opportunity here in Michigan. Usually our one night chances are covered with clouds. We have a nice clearing pattern coming for Thursday night on through next week.

Murray says we can use a good telescope now to see the bands of color around Jupiter. With a good pair of binoculars we can see the four largest moons around Jupiter.

According to Murray, the colored bands are zones of wind storms, with some winds up to 200 mph.

If you really want to get a good viewing of Jupiter, Murray invites you to ‘Observe Jupiter’ night on Friday, November 11 at 8:30 p.m. at the Delta College Planetarium in downtown Bay City. He will give a short program on Jupiter, and then we will go to the telescope to see Jupiter.

If the sky is cloudy Friday, November 11, the viewing will be Saturday, November 12.

Here are the details on Observe Jupiter Night.