Make time to look up at the night sky this week as Jupiter is appearing bigger and brighter than usual. Our Solar System’s gas giant is at its closest point to Earth since 1963, at approximately 591 million kilometres from our planet.

It’s easy to spot without a telescope. As we’ve just had a new moon, the night sky will be slightly darker and Jupiter is appearing in a part of the sky that doesn’t have many bright stars.

“There’s nothing to rival Jupiter – that makes it even more pronounced,” said University of Southern Queensland astrophysics professor Jonti Horner in an interview with ABC.

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Jupiter appeared at its brightest on Tuesday September 27 between 5am and 6am, however, “It will get a little bit fainter, but we’ll get a very good view of it over the next few months,” explains Horner.

The best times to look up will depend on how clear the sky is for you this week. Jupiter will be visible throughout the night, appearing at its brightest at the darkest time of the night – around midnight – but if you look to the skies at sunset make sure you are facing away from the sun and look towards the horizon. At sunrise, face west, opposite the rising sun. “You could almost mistake it for an aircraft with its headlights on,” Horner says.

blogs.nasa.gov