How To: Track a Planet Across the Sky
Required: A clear sky
“You can see Jupiter with the naked eye and track where it is each week,” says Brian Abbott, manager of the Digital Universe at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium, in New York City. “With binoculars, you can even see Jupiter’s four brightest moons ― the same ones Galileo saw 400 years ago.”
- To spot Jupiter in August, look south and scan the night sky for a bright yellow object that doesn’t twinkle; that’s something only stars do.
- If you’re in the northern United States, look about 25 degrees above the horizon; if you live farther south, you’ll need to look a bit higher. (Here’s a tip for gauging degrees: Put both arms out in front of you, make a fist with both hands, and put one on top of the other. The distance of two fist widths is about 20 degrees.)
- As the year progresses, watch the planet move southwest across the sky until, eventually, it disappears behind the sunset.