Ephemeris for Thursday, April 6th. The Sun will rise at 7:13. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 2 minutes, setting at 8:16. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 5:39 tomorrow morning.
The planet Jupiter now rises around sunset. Tomorrow at 4:58 p.m. it will be officially in opposition from the Sun. This isn’t some conflict, but the simple fact that Jupiter will be opposite the Sun in our sky. It then will become an evening planet and in the next month or so will become a dazzling fixture in our evening sky, that it is now later in the evening. Jupiter is the second brightest planet after Venus, which is now emerging from the morning Sun’s twilight glare. Watch for it in next Wednesday’s planet report. Though the second brightest planet Jupiter by far is the largest planet. It’s mass exceeds the combines masses of all the other planets times two. Currently NASA’s Juno spacecraft is orbiting it.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.
In a telescope the Jupiter system is quite dynamic. It’s four largest moons change position from night to night, and sometimes while you watch. The satellites sometimes duck behind Jupiter or through its shadow, or pass in front of the planet, casting their shadow on it. Close observation of Jupiter reveals details in its clouds. It rotates in less than 10 hours, over twice as fast as the Earth, which apparently whips the clouds into alternate light colored zones and darker brownish belts. There’s the Great Red Spot, which last I spotted it has faded to a pale pink, and located in the south edge of the south equatorial belt. The clouds rotate faster at the equator than at higher latitudes.