Jupiter has grown to become one of my absolute favourite planets in the last few months. Not sharing Mars’ potential for life, Saturn’s fantastic rings or Uranus unfortunate name, it’s often an overlooked planet, which is kind of a shame. It’s the biggest planet in the solar system, it’s mass being as much as two and a half times that of the rest of the planets combined. In other words, it’s freaking huge, and for that reason it’s also one of the most visible planets in the night sky throughout the year. Right now, it is clearly outmatched by Venus, and Mars is almost as bright, but throughout most of the year, when you look around and find a really bright spot… that’s Jupiter. If you get a small telescope and point to it, you’ll probably not only see the planet but also the four biggest of its dozens of moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Europa is visible in the Cassini picture below (the dot in the lower left), and is definitely my favourite moon of the solar system, enough to warrant a future ”The Beautiful Cosmos” post.

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