Jupiter closest to Earth in 59 years today, See how to watch

On Monday, Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will come as close to Earth as it has since 1963, or nearly six decades ago. At its furthest point, the enormous planet is roughly 600 million miles from Earth.

The American Space Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have advised astronomers that they can expect spectacular views of Jupiter during the entire night this September when the massive planet enters opposition (NASA).

On Monday, Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, will come as close to Earth as it has since 1963, or nearly six decades ago. At its furthest point, the enormous planet is roughly 600 million miles from Earth.

According to a NASA official statement, opposition occurs when an astronomical object rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west, positioning the object and the Sun on opposite sides of Earth.

“Stargazers, in 59 years, Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth! On September 26, expect beautiful views, weather permitting. You’ll need a big telescope to see the Great Red Spot; a good pair of binoculars should be sufficient to detect some details, the American Space Agency tweeted.

Every 13 months, Jupiter looks bigger and brighter than at any other period of the year. However, this time the planet will also come closer to Earth than it has since 1963. As a result, Earth and Jupiter pass each other at varying distances throughout the year. This is due to the fact that Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles.

Since opposition and closest approach to Earth rarely occur at the same time, this year’s views will be exceptional. Jupiter will be 367 million miles away from Earth when it makes its closest approach, which is around the same distance as it was in 1963.

The bands and three to four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be seen with decent binoculars, according to Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that Galileo used optics from the 17th century to observe these moons. Whatever mechanism you select, a stable mount will be essential, according to Kobelski, who made this assertion in an official NASA release.

To view Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and bands in greater detail, the researcher also suggests using a larger telescope. A 4 inch or larger telescope and some filters in the green to blue range will improve the visibility of these features.

The days leading up to and after September 26 should have excellent views. So, make the most of any favourable weather that occurs before or after this day to enjoy the view. It ought to be one of, if not the brightest object in the night sky besides the Moon, Kolbelski added.

On Monday, September 26, Jupiter will be completely opposite the sun as seen from Earth, an event known as opposition, allowing skywatchers to glimpse the solar system’s largest planet in incredibly fine detail.

During the opposition, Jupiter, Earth, and the sun are all lined up so that Earth is sandwiched between the two large planets, which are both on the same side of the star. It will also be at its closest point to Earth, known as perigee, as the gas giant achieves opposition and rises from the east at the same time the sun sets in the west. Jupiter will be 367 million miles away from Earth during this closest approach, which will mark the gas giant’s closest visit to our planet since 1963.

When the planet is in opposition, it will be in the constellation Pisces and will be visible for the most of the night, rising as the sun sets and setting as the sun rises. The Virtual Telescope Project is providing a live webcast of Jupiter at opposition on Tuesday, September 27, starting at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) (opens in new tab).

Jupiter will be visible overnight from New York between 7:33 p.m. EDT (2333 GMT) on September 26 and 06:08 a.m. (1008 GMT) on Tuesday, according to In-The-Sky.org(opens in new tab) (Sept. 27). At 12:51 a.m. EDT (04:51 GMT) on Tuesday, September 27, the planet will rise to an altitude of 7 degrees above the eastern horizon, move to 49 degrees above the southern horizon (its highest point), and then descend below the western horizon. The Gothamist has compiled some advice on how to observe the planet from NYC(opens in new tab) specifically for skywatchers who reside in New York City.

Wherever you chance to be, using binoculars or a telescope from a dark, dry, high elevation will be the best way to see Jupiter in opposition. It should be possible to view the gas giant’s central bands and even some of its larger moons with good binoculars. The planet’s “Great Red Spot,” a storm that is so massive it could engulf two Earths side by side, should be seen through a powerful telescope.

Jupiter’s opposition and its perigee very seldom coincide despite taking place on identical time periods, making this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the enormous planet. Every 13 months or so, Jupiter swings into opposition, which causes it to appear larger and more prominent in the sky.

Jupiter’s orbit around our star takes 12 times as long as Earth’s, thus once per year, Earth makes its closest approach to Jupiter during its 365-day journey around the sun.

While the distance between Earth and the gas giant, over 350 million miles, may seem far from “near,” the largest separation between our planet and Jupiter is about 600 million miles (960 million km).

Jupiter is around five times further away from the sun than the Earth is, at a distance of 484 million miles (778 kilometres). Because of this great separation from the sun, Jupiter’s close approach will have little impact on how big it appears in the night sky.

If you don’t catch Jupiter at opposition this year, you’ll have another chance to see it on November 3, 2023.

Whether you’re new to skywatching or a seasoned pro, don’t miss our guides to the best telescopes and binoculars for finding Jupiter and other cosmic wonders. See our suggestions for the best astrophotography cameras and lenses to use in order to get the best possible shots of Jupiter.

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