By Jove, the Moon and the planet Jupiter put on a good show the next couple of nights. They climb into good view by about 11 or 11:30. Jupiter looks like a brilliant star near the Moon — only the Moon and the planet Venus outshine it.
Jupiter is named for a Roman god — the equivalent of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Appropriately enough, Jupiter was a sky god. And like Zeus, he was in charge of everything — the leader of all the gods. He was considered a protector of Rome, so military commanders visited one of his temples after a successful battle to give thanks.
Jupiter was also known as Jove. The name is used in the phrase “by Jove!”, which indicates surprise or adds emphasis. According to Miriam-Webster, the phrase was mainly British, and it’s been largely abandoned.
“Jove” is still a part of daily language, though, mainly in the word “jovial” — showing “good-humored cheerfulness.” Other forms of the word include “jovialize,” which means “to make jovial,” and “jovialist” — someone who’s already jovial.
Look for Jove — or Jupiter — rising in late evening, near the gibbous Moon. The solar system’s biggest planet is to the lower left of the Moon tonight, and about the same distance to the right of the Moon tomorrow night. By Jove, the view is pretty much guaranteed to make just about anyone feel jovial — jovialists under the stars.
Tomorrow: a pair of giant stars with a non-jovial future.
Script by Damond Benningfield