Jupiter will be greeting stargazers from the night sky starting this April, and will even be the central point of a new celestial formation that was spotted by Hayden Planetarium astronomy lecturer and Space.com columnist Joe Rao.
The formation, which Rao is calling the "Jupiter Triangle," is both a sight to behold and an easy one to see, as long as you know where to look.
Jupiter Triangle Joins The Night Sky
The night sky is made up of many different constellations and geometric shapes, giving stargazers an unending map of space whenever they look up. One of the things that can be spotted is the Summer Triangle, which is made up of Altair in the Aquila constellation, Deneb in the Cygnus constellation, and the Vega in the Lyra constellation. They are the brightest stars in each of their constellations.
However, Rao claimed that this year, there will be another triangle in the night sky. This, of course, is the Jupiter Triangle, which the astronomer named as such because the largest planet in the solar system is the brightest of its three points.
Joining Jupiter in its triangle are Arcturus and Spica, both of which are also bright stars. Arcturus, which is relatively close at 36.7 light-years from the Earth, is the fourth brightest star in the night sky. Meanwhile, Spira is actually a binary system made of two stars, but at 260 light-years away, it looks like a single star from Earth.
According to Rao, the best time to spot the Jupiter Triangle starts at 11 p.m. ET, and it remains visible throughout the night. It is facing east-southeast this week, and the full moon will pass across the lower half of the triangle on April 28 and April 29. The Jupiter Triangle, however, will continue to change shape and direction as Jupiter moves across the night sky.
Stargazers need no special equipment to see the Jupiter Triangle, though binoculars and a telescope will of course help. The celestial formation will be seen in the night sky until about the middle or end of September, when Spica will be too immersed in the glow of the sunset to be seen.
Other Ways To Look At Jupiter
Of course, there are other ways to see Jupiter aside from looking up at the night sky. NASA has recently provided new images of the planet that were taken by the Juno spacecraft, including of the cyclones at Jupiter's poles and a rose-colored picture of it.
Juno has also been monitoring the planet's famous Great Red Spot, which is apparently shrinking while changing color to orange.