A brilliant double planet for the second time in 2015. Venus and Jupiter will engage in a close conjunction, this time separated by just over 1 degree, Venus passing to the southwest (lower right) of Jupiter and shining more than 10 times brighter than the huge gas giant.
Sighting of Jupiter was first recorded by Babylonian astronomers in 7th or 8th century BC.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and is the largest planet in the Solar System. It is made primarily of gases and is therefore known as a “gas giant”.
Jupiter is known to have at least 67 moons. Io is the largest, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, are just three more. Jupiter has four thin rings which are hardly visible.
Jupiter has the shortest day of all the planets. It turns on its axis once every 9 hours and 55 minutes. It appears to move slowly in the sky, however, as it takes almost 12 Earth years to orbit the Sun.
Jupiter remains in each zodiac constellation for nearly twelve months.
Jupiter has unique cloud features. The upper atmosphere of Jupiter is divided into cloud belts and zones, primarily made up of ammonia crystals and sulphur.
Eight spacecraft have visited Jupiter: Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini, Ulysses, and New Horizons missions.
The Juno mission is its way to Jupiter and will arrive in July 2016. Other future missions may focus on the Jovian moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, and their subsurface oceans.