Our winter stargazing is truly spectacular, particularly after mid-winter and the solstice. Scorpio is rising, Orion is setting in the south and the magnificent milky way is almost on the meridian.

With Scorpio stretched across the southern sky, the red giant Antares is easily recognisable as the scorpion’s heart, and the massive planet Jupiter visible in the east, directly perpendicular below Antares!  We have been blissfully viewing Jupiter all night, all month!  Planets are normally only visible during the time when the sun is setting or rising the Sun sets and rises as they need to be in line with the Sun to reflect its rays. Planets have no fuel of their own and don’t “burn” as stars do.  Over this period, Jupiter is visible all night as it is closest to the Earth and between the Earth and the Sun.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system is 11 times the size of Earth but nowhere near as dense. In “brightness” or magnitude, it scores -2.6! Second only to Sirius, our brightest star at -1.46. (Our sun not counting). Jupiter has massive storms and swirling clouds that make it fascinating to view through binoculars. One might even see a couple of the four moons that orbit Jupiter.

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