The planet Jupiter will be at its closest to the Earth since 1963 today and Tuesday, scientists say. This will cause the planet's appearance to peak at a brightness and size not seen since then. The planet Uranus will also make a close approach, but will be more difficult to spot, as it is much farther away.
Scientists say that Jupiter will rise at about the time of sunset and will be nearly directly overhead at midnight. The only brighter object that will be in the sky at that time will be the moon. NASA scientist Tony Phillips said "Jupiter is so bright right now, you don't need a sky map to find it." It will not appear this bright again until 2022, Wikinews reports.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and by far the largest. Jupiter is more than twice as massive as all the other planets combined (the mass of Jupiter is 318 times that of Earth).
Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky (after the Sun, the Moon and Venus).
Jupiter is believed to defend earth from comet strikes. This notion comes from the idea that Jupiter is so massive that its gravitational influence deflects objects like comets, which, as they spiral toward the Sun, could potentially hit inner planets such as the Earth, Bharat Chronicle says.