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What’s Up for April 2017

Jupiter, the king of the planets, is visible all night long, and the Lyrids meteor shower peaks on April 22.

On April 7, Jupiter–the king of planets–reaches opposition, when it shines brightest and appears largest. 

Jupiter will be almost directly overhead at midnight.

This is also a great time to observe the planet’s Galilean moons–Io, Ganymeade, Europa and Callisto. They can be easily seen through binoculars.

With binoculars, you can even see the Great Red Spot as the storm transits the planet every ten hours.

Looking east on April 22, look to the skies for the Summer Triangle, consisting of Deneb, in Cygnus, the Swan; Altair in Aquila, the Eagle; and Vega, in Lyre(the Harp).

Get ready for the Lyrids, the year’s second major meteor shower, as it pierces the Summer Triangle in the early morning hours of April 22. Since the shower begins close to the new moon, expect excellent almost moonless viewing conditions.  

You can catch up on solar system and all of our missions at www.nasa.gov

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Full Moon and Jupiter sharing a field of view. 

Labeled top to bottom, the tiny pinpricks of light above bright Jupiter are the four Galilean moons; Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io. Callisto, Ganymede, and Io are physically larger than Earth’s Moon, while water world Europa is only slightly smaller. In fact, of the Solar System’s six largest planetary satellites, only Saturn’s moon Titan is missing from the scene.

Image Credit & Copyright: Göran Strand

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Moons of Jupiter

[top left] Callisto: third largest moon in our solar system

[top right] Io: the dark spot on the center left is the volcano Prometheus

[bottom left] Ganymede: largest moon in our solar system & the only moon we know of to have a magnetic field

[bottom right] Europa: NASA has detected phyllosilicates (clay-ish minerals) on this moon’s ice ladden crust