Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years on September 26. Here is how you can watch it.
Monday is going to be awesome! It will be a day full of excitement especially for the people who are interested in space and science. Want to know why? First, NASA’s DART Mission spacecraft will be colliding with an asteroid to test its defence mechanism. Secondly, Jupiter is going to make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years. You can expect great views of Jupiter the entire night of Monday. You can get a glimpse of the planet too. All you need is a good pair of binoculars to let you catch some details. You will also need a large telescope to see the Great Red Spot.
Informing about the same NASA said, “Stargazers: Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years! Weather-permitting, expect excellent views on Sept. 26. A good pair of binoculars should be enough to catch some details; you’ll need a large telescope to see the Great Red Spot.” NASA in a report further said, “Stargazers can expect excellent views of Jupiter the entire night of Monday, Sept. 26 when the giant planet reaches opposition. From the viewpoint of Earth’s surface, opposition happens when an astronomical object rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west, placing the object and the Sun on opposite sides of Earth.”
It can be known that in every 13 months Jupiter’s opposition occurs, making the planet appear larger and brighter than any other time of the year. But that’s not all. Jupiter will also make its closest approach to Earth since 1963 – almost six decades ago! Explaining the reason behind the same NASA said, this happens because Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles – meaning the planets will pass each other at different distances throughout the year. Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be extraordinary.
At its closest approach, Jupiter will be approximately 367 million miles in distance from Earth, about the same distance it was in 1963. The massive planet is approximately 600 million miles away from Earth at its farthest point.
How to watch Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth in 59 years
“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” said Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Kobelski recommends a larger telescope to see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and bands in more detail; a 4 inch-or-larger telescope and some filters in the green to blue range would enhance the visibility of these features. According to Kobelski, an ideal viewing location will be at a high elevation in a dark and dry area.
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NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter for six years, is dedicated to exploring the planet and its moons. Juno began its journey in 2011 and reached Jupiter five years later. Since 2016, the spacecraft has provided several images and data about Jupiter’s atmosphere, interior structures, internal magnetic field, and magnetosphere. Juno’s mission was recently extended until 2025 or until the end of the spacecraft’s life. The next major project for Jupiter exploration is the Europa Clipper. This spacecraft will explore Jupiter’s iconic moon, Europa, which is known for its icy shell and vast ocean that lies beneath its surface.