This Week’s Night Sky: Watch Jupiter and Uranus Sparkle
The largest planet in the solar system will put on a fine display, and the green-hued ice giant will glide near the crescent moon.
On July 4, a NASA spacecraft called Juno will reach Jupiter after a five-year flight. The probe will endure a harrowing 35-minute maneuver through Jupiter’s punishing radiation belts to get into a long polar orbit. Once there, the Juno mission will study Jupiter’s atmosphere and deep interior, skimming closer to the planet’s cloud tops than any previous spacecraft.
The two objects will appear to be only six degrees apart, with the ice giant to the upper right of the lunar crescent.
While Uranus will be difficult to spot, binoculars will reveal it as a tiny but distinct greenish blue disk. Located just over 1.8 billion miles (three billion kilometers) from Earth, Uranus’s light will take two hours and 48 minutes to