What is the Jupiter Triangle?
The fifth and largest planet in the solar system is already one of the brightest objects in the night sky, but things are about to get a little bit more exciting.
This month the gas giant will appear to form the tip of a “fairly bright triangle” with the stars Spica and Arcturus.
Throughout the month of April, Jupiter will remain the brightest of the star’s three points.
The star Arcturus, also known as Alpha Boötis or Alpha Boo, is the brightest star in the constellation Bootes.
Meanwhile Spica, or Alpha Virginia, is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo and the 16th brightest star in the sky.
Arcturus together with Spica and the star Denbola also form the Spring Triangle asterism and the Great Diamond with the binary star Cor Caroli.
When to see the Jupiter Triangle
According to astronomer Edward Bloomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the so-called Jupiter triangle should remain visible at night to the naked eye as long as the weather permits.
The stellar display should begin around the world at 11pm local time.
The space expert told Epxress.co.uk “There are a couple of difficulties though: first, Jupiter and Spica will be fairly low on the horizon, and secondly the best time to observe the Triangle will be the early hours of the morning.
“On Tuesday April 10 Spica will cross the meridian – that is, move West past due South – at around quarter past one in the morning, with Jupiter doing the same a little after three.
“If it isn’t obvious which stars to look for, try to find the stars that make up ‘The Plough’ in the night sky.”
The Plough, or the Big Dipper as it is known in the US, is a grouping of seven bright stars in the constellation Ursa Major.
The Plough has a distinctive shape reminiscent of a plough or pan and handle and is incredibly useful in celestial navigation.
The astronomer said: “Use the curve of the handle to ‘arc to Arcturus’ then keep going and ‘speed on to Spica’.
“Jupiter, being a planet, will ‘wander’ in the night sky as time passes, but the Triangle pattern will be fairly easy to discern for a couple of months (at which point the issue will be that Jupiter and Spica will set before it gets dark).
“If your horizon isn’t particularly clear, look further Eastwards, where the ‘Summer Triangle’ of the stars Vega, Altair and Deneb will also be quite bright: as we move through the next few months, this will be a convenient asterism – an ‘unofficial’ star pattern – that is fairly easy to spot.”
Interestingly, on the night of April 28 and 29 the moon will pass across the Triangle’s lower portion, which is something to lookout for.
Coincidentally April 29 in the US also marks the rise of the April Pink Moon 2018.