There has been a bright light that has been shining low in the eastern sky in the last few nights. It shines with a steady, silvery glow and a few hours later when it has climbed noticeably higher in the east-southeastern part of the sky, it seems to command attention.

It makes sense since you are looking at an object named after the king of the gods and the king of the planets.

We will see Jupiter loom as large and as bright as it can get from our vantage point, because it's nearing perihelion, the point at which it is closest to the sun.

NASA says that Jupiter is close to Earth in 59 years.

Jupiter is more than one and a half times brighter than it was in April of last year, when it was close to aphelion. Jupiter can be seen as a small disk with even 7-power binoculars. Jupiter resolves into a series of red, yellow, tan and brown shadings, as well as a wealth of other telescopic detail, if you use a small telescope. As the planet approaches the Earth, amateur astronomer have been looking at it. The opposition will be in the sky all night long on Monday.

The time is at 10p.m. Jupiter will make its closest approach to the Earth in over 50 years. The distance will be 591,168,168 km. Jupiter is so bright that through a small telescope, it can be seen as big as the moon, even if you don't have a telescopic device.

A photograph of a bright Jupiter shining in the night sky.

A photograph of a bright Jupiter shining in the night sky. (Image credit: Haitong Yu/Getty Images)

A giant among giants

The diameter of Jupiter is almost ten times that of the Earth. It takes a long time to travel around the sun. Jupiter's day is shorter if it is long. In less than 10 hours, the planet rotates. This is a planet of this size. A point on Jupiter's equator is moving at a faster rate than a point on the Earth's equator. Jupiter looks like a ball because of the rapid rate of spinning. It has a rocky core encased in a thick mantle of metallic hydrogen and surrounded by a cloak of multi-colored clouds.

The Great Red Spot is as wide as the Earth and comes and goes unpredictably. Jupiter may be producing energy of its own because it loses more heat energy than it gets from the sun.

An image of Jupiter in space.

An image of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot. (Image credit: NASA)

Jupiter's rings are made up of a lot of tiny dust particles, which makes them less reflective than the famous rings ofSaturn.

Like Earth, Jupiter has a magnetic field and a ring of charged particles that encircles the planet.

The dance of the moons

Galileo discovered Jupiter's four major moons in the year 412. They are treasures. They change their appearance from hour to hour and from night to night as they run a merry race with one another.

You'll be able to see three moons on one side of Jupiter, with the fourth moon alone on the other side. It's Callisto that will be alone on Jupiter's other side after Monday. There are two moons on one side and two on the other.

At 12:14 a.m., that's correct. The time is 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday. A transit is when a planet crosses in front of another planet. Jupiter has more than 50 other satellites. Space probes have passed close to Jupiter during the decades of the 70's, 80's and 90's, and many of these are extremely small.

Gyrating Jupiter?

Jupiter might appear to move in a circle or spiral when it is in the sky. I've received many emails from people who claim to have seen Jupiter move back and forth.

Why does it look like it's moving? The autokinetic effect may have been experienced by those who have seen it. A phenomenon of human visual perception is when a small point of light in a dark environment moves. The autokinetic effect's action on stars and planets is believed to be the cause of many unexplained flying objects. There is a perception of movement where there is not a lot of movement. If one person reports that a light is moving, other people will report the same thing.

Jupiter is shining in a constellation that contains mostly faint stars. Jupiter will shine under a clear, dark sky with no moon nearby. It's possible for the autokinetic effect to kick in if a person stares at Jupiter for a long period of time.

Look at Jupiter and see if it will move for you.

Don't miss our guides for the best binoculars and telescopes to spot Jupiter and other objects in the night sky, if you want to catch a great view of Jupiter at op postion. If you want to take the best Jupiter pictures, you need to check out our recommendations for the best cameras andlenses.

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There is an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for a number of publications. We encourage you to follow us on social media: