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Jupiter During Daylight: Why it Happens and How to View It

Jupiter During Daylight: Why it Happens and How to View It

You may think of telescope viewing as a strictly nighttime activity, but that’s not always the case! Some planets, like Venus, Jupiter, and Mars, are bright enough that they can be viewed long before the Sun sets. Read on to learn about the science of this phenomenon, as well as how you can get in on a very special viewing opportunity at Lowell Observatory!

This spring, Jupiter is ideally situated for observation. As night falls, the planet illuminates the southeastern evening sky with its bright glow. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, and the second brightest in the sky after Venus. It owes its brilliance to the cloud cover on its surface, which acts like a mirror to reflect sunlight. Throughout the night, it traverses the sky and eventually sets in the west just before dawn. Observing Jupiter doesn’t require waiting for complete darkness; it’s bright enough to be spotted during twilight. In fact, you can even catch a glimpse of Jupiter in broad daylight if you know where to look!

Ideal conditions for daytime viewing of Jupiter include a clear, haze-free sky. To the naked eye, the planet will appear as a bright pinprick of light, but a good pair of binoculars or a telescope will reveal it as a small, pale disk. In April, Jupiter will rise around 5pm. local time, less than 2 hours before sunset. You can use the method described below any time the planet is well-separated from the Sun. Make a point of trying it this summer and fall, when it’s high in the sky during the afternoon.

Join us for Daytime Jupiter Viewing at Lowell!

For a limited time, we will be pointing the historic 24″ Clark Telescope at Jupiter while it is visible in the sky throughout the afternoon. Viewing will be free with the purchase of a general admission ticket from 12pm to 5pm, daily from March 8 – 10! Buy tickets here.