Spring is off to a cold start, but as the days get warmer, space geeks can finally dust off their telescopes and get into stargazing. While there won’t be another blue moon for a while, there will be a special celestial alignment that will make for some stellar eye candy.
Jupiter will form a triangle with two of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus and Spica, for the majority of the season. The astronomical formation will be visible at roughly 11 p.m. local time in the east-southeast portion of the sky this week. While this cosmic geometric pattern will grace the night sky for quite some time, you’ll need to make a trip out to less light-polluted areas to catch a good glimpse of it.
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Arcturus is the fourth-brightest star in the sky, located in the Boötes constellation 36.7 light-years from Earth. Spica is the 16th-brightest star and resides in the Virgo constellation about 260 light-years away. Jupiter is much closer to us at 365 million miles (588 kilometers), making it the most brilliant point in the arrangement.
Jupiter will be moving in retrograde until July 11. No, this doesn’t mean your spring will be ruined, but it does mean that the once-isosceles triangle will slowly change in appearance. Once summer comes around, the triangle will begin looking a lot narrower than it did in the spring.
By mid-September, Spica will be lost in the glow of the sunset, and in November the same will happen to Jupiter, marking the end of this celestial triangle. Jupiter won’t be in the same part of the sky as Arcturus and Spica again until 2030, so be sure to catch this three-pronged alignment while you can.