I just came in from outside, and sure enough. I can see Jupiter from my house. How, you may ask, did I figure out which bright shiny dot was Jupiter? Elementary my dear Watson, I used a free open source program called Stellarium.
I just heard about it from a blog post by J Aaron Farr and had to give it a try. I must say that it is pretty amazing. I would love to get away from the city lights and give this a try with some good binoculars, but even from my home in the city I could make out quite a few constellations. Pretty impressive piece of software. And it is open source too.
You can’t beat the simplicity of this program.
Step 1. Install
Step 2. Set your location (this part kind of sucks, but I was eventually able to get Mobile, AL keyed in, just took some good coordination on my laptop touchpad, probably an easier way if I would RTFM)
Step 3. Take laptop outside and rotate it till it matches the sky.
Step 4. Marvel that the bright shiny dots now have names.
Here is a screenshot of Jupiter: