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It’s a great week to gather the kids and train your eyes on the night sky—the planet Jupiter is bigger and better than ever!

Well, at least it’ll look that way this week.  

Jupiter reaches what’s termed “opposition” during the final week of September this year, and that makes for some fun stargazing conditions.

Quick science lesson time: “opposition” is when a planet is directly opposite the Sun in the sky. And all those orbits out there in space have the Earth sandwiched between Jupiter and the Sun right now too, meaning our Solar System’s gasseous giant is closer to us than it’s been in almost 60 years. That means you might even be able to spot some of its layers and Galilean moons! 

Cool, right? 

In this technological age, probably the best way to help you locate Jupiter—and all sorts of other cool astronomical notables—is to download an app like SkyView or StarWalk2. These apps are almost guaranteed to bring out the science geek in you since they give you access to really cool interactive maps of the night sky that you can hold in the palm of your hand. The kids will have fun looking for constellations and man-made objects like the International Space Station too! 

Because it’s so close and bright this week, you’ll be able to see Jupiter with the naked eye, but a telescope or pair of binoculars will make it even more awe-inspiring. And if you can snap a photo, even better.

Sounds like a great reason to keep the kids up a little past bedtime to me! 

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