Chances are the brightest star you've
seen lately is actually planet Jupiter.
Jupiter rules the sky in this
labeled view of a starry September night
from the Alborz mountains in Iran, complete with
the trail of a red flashlight illuminating the mountain road.
On September 21st
Jupiter will be at opposition,
the Sun along its orbit, rising just as the Sun sets.
For this opposition,
Jupiter will be slightly brighter and
closer to planet Earth than in any year since 1963.
Much fainter and also approaching its own opposition
on September 21st, is the distant planet Uranus.
Very near Jupiter on the sky, the fainter planet is easy to
spot in binoculars (similar to the inset view),
well above and right of brilliant Jupiter and
about as bright as one of Jupiter's own
Remarkably close to the opposition of both planets,
the point on the sky exactly opposite the Sun on September
23rd is marked the
On that date, a Full Moon will join the celestial scene.
Of course, any Full Moon
is also at opposition.