Here's How You Can Spot Jupiter and a Meteor Shower Peak This Week
November is kicking off with a stacked week of celestial events.
Everybody, give a round of applause to the first week of November who, to meet the high expectations set by the last week of October (scary season, Halloween, and all that), decided to bless us with a packed schedule of cosmic events.
This week you have not one, but two very cool celestial happenings to be on the lookout for. For starters, Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will be at its closest point to Earth on November 1 and November 2, which means it'll be bright and visible in the skies, according to EarthSky. After that, it will go into its yearly opposition—meaning the Earth will be located exactly in between Jupiter and the sun—on November 2 and 3.
But how does that affect our viewer experience, so to speak? Well, when Jupiter is at its closest point to Earth, which astronomers call "perigee," it only logically follows that the planet will appear bigger and brighter.
You won't have a hard time finding it in the sky, so no need to stress. In the days leading up to the planet being at perigee with Earth, Jupiter already appears as a very bright object in the sky, and it even looks brighter than all the stars. But on 5 pm EST on November 1, it will reach its closest point to Earth, and it will appear even brighter than before with a magnitude of -2.9, making it the fourth brightest object in the sky after the sun, the moon, and Venus.
That means that your best bet is setting out in the evening or night between November 1 and 2 to see big Jupiter hanging out. You can even use binoculars and through those, according to EarthSky, you might even catch a glimpse of its four moons.
If planets are not your thing or you miss out on this event, there is something else in store for you. The Taurid meteor shower is also slated to peak this week. Or better, the South Taurids are. The Taurids technically divide into two tranches that are pretty close by and somewhat overlapping. The South Taurid meteor shower happens from around September 10 to November 20, while its northern counterpart is active from around October 20 to December 10, according to Earth Sky.
This week, the South Taurids are putting up a show. Their predicted peak is November 6 at 8:47 pm EST, and some of them might even be fireballs. Your best time to try and see them is around midnight, but since their peak isn't very definite, you could still try and catch them around November 13 when the moon will be in its new moon phase and won't therefore interfere with its brightness, EarthSky suggests.
In terms of ideal conditions, you know the drill. Get somewhere with low light pollution (here's a handy map for that) or check where the nearest dark site is (there's a map for this, too). As NASA recommends, lay flat on your back and get comfy with some blankets and allow your eyes at least 30 minutes to adapt to the darkness. After that, you should be able to see about five meteors per hour (10 if the South and North Taurids overlap). Happy stargazing!