STARGAZERS ARE IN for a treat tonight.
Actually – ‘stargazers’ probably isn’t the right word, there aren’t any stars involved. But unfortunately there’s no catch-all term for ‘people who like Jupiter’.
Anyway, if you happen to cast your gaze skywards tonight, you might spot an extremely bright heavenly body next to the Moon.
It’s not a star, however. It is in fact the largest planet in our solar system…
David Moore of Astronomy Ireland reckons it will be “one of the most spectacular events visible to the general public during 2016″.
“It is really only a line-of-sight effect – with Jupiter being 2,000 times further away than the Moon, but to the general public it will look like the two brightest objects in the night sky will be beside one another in the most impressive display the Moon can ever put on with another celestial object.
This is definitely an event for your ‘bucket list’, seeing the two brightest objects in the night sky closer than you will ever see them again in your life.
The above image, in fairness, probably doesn’t do the phenomenon justice – and if you want a closer look (and you’re in the Dublin area) Moore and his colleagues are setting up some powerful telescopes tomorrow night.
The event’s happening at AI’s HQ in Rosemount Business Park in Blanchardstown – near the M50 from 9pm.
“The Moon is always stunning in a telescope, with thousands of craters peppering its surface and vast lava plains and huge mountains all visible in the giant telescopes,” Moore said.
Those who stay until after 10pm will even get to see the Great Red Spot on Jupiter which is the biggest storm in the solar system, bigger than Earth, and has been ‘blowing’ with 500 km/h winds for over 300 years.
The two celestial objects will technically be closest tonight – and they’ll be almost as close tomorrow evening.