From May 25 to 28, 2018 – if you have a clear sky – you will surely notice a very bright "star" near the moon. This object is really a planet, Jupiter. As Venus sets in the west, not long after the sun, the moon and Jupiter are the two brightest objects in the night sky.
On some of these nights you may notice a weaker true star, still one of our brightest stars, Spica – in the moonlight. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Virgin, and it is a key star of the zodiac. Although Spica is a star of the first size, it is 20 times weaker than Jupiter. But Jupiter's brightness comes from its relative proximity to Earth, while Spica is a distant star, about 262 light-years away.
The size of Spica is practically the same as that of Antares, another star of the zodiac. Do you want to compare them, but do not know how to recognize Antares? Jupiter is roughly halfway between these two bright stars, and the moon will pass the sky dome near Antares on May 28, as shown in the above sky map.
Notice how nearly full and around the moon this weekend appears in our skies. Jupiter and the Moon will be closest on May 27, and the moon will be full on May 29. Meanwhile, this is Jupiter's month of opposition; That is, the Earth has just flown between Jupiter and the Sun and has placed Jupiter opposite the sun in our sky. A full moon is also facing the sun, as seen from the earth.
So it's no coincidence that Jupiter is close to the sky dome for this almost full moon around us. Both Jupiter and the Moon are more or less facing the Sun.
In two months – July 27, 2018 – it will be the opposition of Mars, the first in two years and the best since 2003. Jupiter is now brighter than Mars, but wait! From July 7th to September 7th, 2018, Mars will surpass Jupiter in brightness … and it will shine with a red color!
In fact, at the end of July, Mars will shine more than 30 times brighter than stars like Spica and Antares, two of the brightest stars in our sky
You can see Mars tonight if you're ready to get up early or wake up early. It is a strikingly bright star in the sky before sunrise, near another planet, Saturn.
Back to the moon and Jupiter. They know that the moon in our sky is much bigger than Jupiter. But that's just because the Moon is so much closer to Earth than Jupiter. At present, the Moon is nearly 245,000 miles (394,000 km) away, while Jupiter is far beyond the Moon, at nearly 1,700 times the distance of the Moon from Earth. Click here to see the actual distance of the Moon from Earth in kilometers, miles or astronomical units (AU). Click here or click here to learn about Jupiter's current distance from Earth in astronomical units (AU).
Jupiter is truly the vast world of our solar system. In fact, Jupiter's volume is greater than 1,300 Earths or 66,000 Earth Moons!
Jupiter is also 318 times more massive than our planet Earth. The royal planet is more than twice as massive as all other solar system planets, dwarf planets, minor planets and moons.
Think about how you see this great planet in the moonlight in the coming nights!
Conclusion: On the nights of May 25 to 28, 2018, the giant planet Jupiter is the brightest object in the vicinity of the moon. Spica in the constellation Virgo – and Antares in the constellation Scorpius – are also nearby.
Read more: Spica is a twirling double star
Read more: Antares is the heart of Scorpio