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How to view Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth in 59 years on September 26

Jupiter's opposition to Earth on September 26 will be the closest it has come to our planet since 1969. Here is how you can best view the gas giant.

Image of Jupiter against the dark background of spaceJupiter’s closest approach to our planet rarely coincides with opposition, making September 26 a rare treat. (Image credit: NASA)

NASA announced that Jupiter is set to make its closest approach to Earth in the last 59 years on September 26. Stargazers can expect to be treated to excellent views of the biggest planet in our solar system on that day. Here is why the phenomenon is happening and how you can make the most of it to get great views of the gas giant and its features.

To begin with, Jupiter will be in opposition from the point of view of Earth on September 26. “Opposition” is when an astronomical object rises in the East as the Sun sets on the west. In this case, Jupiter and the Sun will be on opposite sides of Earth. Jupiter’s opposition with Earth happens once every 13 months but on September 26, opposition coincides with the time when Jupiter will be closest to Earth since 1969.

During this time, the gas giant will be approximately 590 million kilometres away from the Earth. At its farthest, Jupiter is approximately 965 million kilometres away from our planet.

“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible. 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,” said Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, in a press statement.

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Kobelski recommends a large telescope, around 4-inch or larger, to see the gas giant’s Great Red Spot. Filters in the green to the blue range will enhance the visibility of the red spot.

Scientists have detected a total of 79 Jovian moons but only about 53 moons. The planet’s four largest moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto—are called Galilean satellites because Galileo discovered them in 1610. On September 26, these Galillean satellites can also be observed, visible as bright dots on either side of the planet.

First published on: 26-09-2022 at 10:13:58 am
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