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Catch Jupiter Among The Stars of Libra (May 2018)

Catch Jupiter Among The Stars of Libra (May 2018)

This month, Jupiter will be shining brilliantly low in the east-southeast sky at dusk. At magnitude -2.5 it is second only to Venus in brightness. When you spot Jupiter look for the nearby bright stars Spica and Arcturus, as the three will make up a rather conspicuous triangle configuration. Jupiter is currently located in the constellation of Libra, the Scales, well known for being in the zodiac but not much to look at.

jupiter libra

Constellation Libra

One early version of how this star pattern came to be is that Libra was intended to symbolize the equality of day and night, which occurred when the Sun was entering this constellation more than 3,000 years ago. At that time, the autumnal equinox took place in Libra. Interestingly, ancient star atlases depicting the adjacent constellation of Scorpius included the stars of Libra to represent the Scorpion’s claws. This history is preserved in the names of these stars: Zubeneschamali is from the old Arabic meaning “The Northern Claw,” and Zubenelgenubi means “The Southern Claw.”

Today, however, based on international agreement, there is a strict division of these two constellations. Some have described Zubeneschamali, which appears whitish to some, as possessing a “beautiful pale green” tint and is possibly the only naked-eye star that is green in color.

When To See Jupiter and the Nearly Full Moon This Week:

On Sunday, May 27th, soon after sunset, face south-southeast to see the nearly full Moon ascending the sky ,and situated well to its right will be brilliant Jupiter. They’ll be out almost all night long.

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