Jupiter’s SEP. 26 Opposition to Make Closest Approach to Earth in 70 Years!

Jupiter, the largest planet of the solar system, is reaching opposition on Monday, Sept. 26, making closest approach to Earth for the first time in 70 years.

From the viewpoint of Earth’s surface, as NASA says, opposition takes place 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.

Although Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, making the planet appear larger and brighter than any other time of the year, this year’s views will be extraordinary as the planet this time will also make its closest approach, approximately 365 million miles in distance, to Earth in the last 70 years!

The gas giant is approximately 600 million miles away from Earth at its farthest point.

Why this opposition takes place is 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.

Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said that, with good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) will be visible.

As the Moon rose over the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City on Feb. 27, 2019, the planet Jupiter could be seen, along with three of its largest moons. Stargazers should have a similar view during Jupiter in Opposition on Sept. 26. Image Credits: NASA/Bill Dunford

According to Adam Kobelski, Galileo Galilei observed these moons with 17th century optics.

According to Kobelski, an ideal viewing location will be at a high elevation in a dark and dry area.

“The views should be great for a few days before and after Sept. 26,” Kobelski said.

Although Jupiter has 53 named moons, scientists believe that 79 moons have been detected in total. The four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, are called the Galilean satellites.

Scientists believe studying Jupiter can lead to breakthrough discoveries about the formation of the solar system.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter for six years, beginning its journey in 2011.

The next major project for Jupiter exploration is the Europa Clipper, whose Targeted launch is currently set for October 2024.

  • September 17, 2022
Universe & Existence