On Saturday May 4th the position of the planet Jupiter with respect to the Earth and the Sun places the solar system’s largest planet at an orbital position called eastern quadrature. Jupiter is at a 90 degree angle from the Earth as this graphic shows. Think first quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Jupiter follows the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Jupiter rises after the Sun and consequently sets after the Sun.
Where is Jupiter now? This graphic shows the sky at 10 pm CDT to include Jupiter high above the southwestern horizon near the tail of Leo the Lion. with Mars and Saturn also visible further to the east. I’ve also added the ecliptic to this graphic to show the relationship between these planets and some of the bright stars along the ecliptic.
This is a short 6-7 minute video I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” that was performed at the Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City Missouri in May 2011. This is a piece from the much longer tour of the solar system performance and video and shows Jupiter, Saturn and some of their moons as viewed from the Cassini spacecraft.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.