What was that big, bright thing next to the Moon last night?

If you were looking at the sky over Monday night, you might have spotted a big, bright thing next to the Moon. But what was it - and will we see it again?

Stardome's astronomy educator John Rowe says the large mysterious object was Jupiter, making its closest pass to Earth for the year.

"They were about 2 degrees apart," he told Newshub. "Jupiter was just like a star but brighter."

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, and was just 650million kilometres away - relatively close for Jupiter.

"Shining conspicuously at magnitude -2.6, Jupiter is already brighter than any star visible in the nighttime sky," says expert website Astronomy Now.

"At 1am BST on May 21, Jupiter lies almost 652million kilometres from Earth and appears slightly larger than 45 arcseconds in diameter."

But even if you missed out on the best of it last night, Stardome says there will be good viewing on Tuesday night. Jupiter will be visible as it starts rising around 8pm.

"Tonight the distance is 5 degrees," Rowe says. "It's still relatively close together this evening looking towards the south-east."



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