Jupiter reaches opposition on February 8, 2015. This occurs when our faster moving planet Earth moves between Jupiter and the sun, making the sun and Jupiter appear on opposite sides of the sky. At this year’s opposition, Jupiter is 400 million miles from the us. While it is much larger than Venus, Jupiter’s greater distance makes it dimmer than Venus, currently shining in the southwest during early evening twilight hours. Venus appears nearly 3.5 times brighter than Jupiter, and outshining all other starlike objects. The chart above shows Earth between Jupiter and the sun.
Early in the evening look for Jupiter in the eastern sky. The dimmer stars to the left of the planet make the constellation Leo. The “Sickle of Leo,” a nickname for some of the stars in the constellation, resemble a farmer’s tool.
By midnight, Jupiter and the accompanying stars appear high in the southern sky. Bluish Regulus is part of the view.
By early morning, Jupiter and its stellar entourage appear in the western sky. As the sky brightens with the sun rising in the east, Jupiter sets in the west — opposition.