Jupiter to reach opposition, make closest approach to Earth in decades — when to see it

This picture was acquired on Sept. 12, 2010, when Jupiter was near opposition. South is up and the “Great Red Spot” is seen. Two of Jupiter’s moons, Io and Ganymede, may also be seen on this picture. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal

Just after the autumn equinox within the Northern Hemisphere, it will likely be a main viewing time for sky watchers looking for a particular glimpse of Jupiter, which can quickly make its closest strategy in almost 60 years.

There will probably be nice views of Jupiter all through the night time of Monday, Sept. 26, when the biggest planet in our photo voltaic system reaches opposition, in keeping with NASA. Opposition is when Earth passes instantly between the solar and an outer planet — on this case, Jupiter — inserting the large planet and the solar on reverse sides of Earth.

Jupiter’s opposition occurs each 13 months, which makes the planet seem bigger and brighter than at some other time of the 12 months, NASA says. What makes this era of opposition much more particular is that Jupiter can even make its closest strategy to Earth within the final 59 years — two issues that not often coincide.

The planets in our photo voltaic system don’t orbit the solar in excellent circles. Instead, they orbit in additional of an ellipse or “flattened” circle form. This means Earth and Jupiter cross one another at totally different factors all year long. 


FILE – A show of the summer time Milky Way. Seen on this {photograph} is the spiral arm of our galaxy; stars of the constellation Libra, constellation Scorpius, Planet Jupiter (Bright Spot on the Center) & Majestic Saturn at 8 o’clock of Jupiter. Thi

Jupiter will probably be roughly 367 million miles in distance from Earth at its closest strategy. The final time the large planet was so shut was in 1963, NASA says.

At its farthest level, the large planet is roughly 600 million miles away from Earth.

RELATED: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captures dazzling pictures of Neptune’s rings, moons

How to see Jupiter’s opposition, closest strategy to Earth

“The views should be great for a few days before and after Sept. 26,” Adam Kobelski, a analysis astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, stated in an announcement this month. 

“So, take advantage of good weather on either side of this date to take in the sight. Outside of the Moon, it should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky,” Kobelski added.

Look for Jupiter within the east after sundown, which will probably be “brighter than any star,” EarthSky says. It lies instantly south of the jap aspect of the “Great Square,” a gaggle of 4 stars within the constellation Pegasus. There can also be a faint group of six stars referred to as the “Circlet” within the constellation Pisces between the Great Square and Jupiter. 

An preferrred viewing location will probably be at a excessive elevation in a darkish and dry space. Kobelski additionally really helpful a bigger telescope to see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and bands in additional element. 

Jupiter has 53 named moons, however scientists imagine there are 79 moons in complete, in keeping with NASA. The 4 largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, are referred to as the “Galilean satellites” — named after the person who first noticed them in 1610, Galileo Galilei. 

In binoculars or a telescope, the Galilean satellites ought to seem as shiny dots on both aspect of Jupiter throughout opposition.

“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites should be visible,” Kobelski stated. “It’s important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th-century optics. One of the key needs will be a stable mount for whatever system you use.”

Exploring Jupiter and its moons

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter for six years, sending again pictures and information about Jupiter’s environment, inside constructions, inner magnetic area, and magnetosphere. It first launched in 2011 and reached the planet 5 years later. 

The area company can also be planning its subsequent main Jupiter exploration undertaking, involving a spacecraft referred to as the Europa Clipper. 

Scheduled to launch no sooner than October 2024, the spacecraft will Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which is understood for its icy shell and the huge ocean beneath its floor. 

Scientists hope to see whether or not Europa has circumstances capable of maintain life, the company stated.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.

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