Jupiter has been slated for its closest approach to Earth in the last 70 years, and on September 26, stargazers can expect an excellent view of when the giant planet will reach opposition.
From the point of view of the Earth’s surface, resistance occurs when an astronomical object rises in the east with the sun setting in the west, placing the object and the sun on opposite sides of the Earth.
Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, making the planet appear larger and brighter than any other time of year. but that’s not all.
“Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, meaning the outlook this year will be extraordinary,” NASA said in a statement late Friday.
At its closest approach, Jupiter will be about 365 million miles from Earth.
The planet is about 600 million miles from Earth at its furthest point.
“With good binoculars, the band (at least the central band) and three or four Galilean satellites will be visible,” said Adam Kobelsky, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
“It is important to remember that Galileo observed these moons using 17th century optics. One of the basic needs is to have a stable base for whatever system you use,” he said.
Kobelsky recommends a larger telescope to view Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and its band in greater detail—a four-inch or larger telescope and some filters in the green to blue range will enhance the appearance of this feature.
According to Kobelski, the ideal viewing location is in the highlands in a dark and dry area.
Jupiter has 53 named moons, but scientists believe that 79 moons have been discovered in total.
The four largest moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – are called the Galilean moons.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter for six years, is dedicated to exploring the planet’s surface and its moons.
Scientists believe that the study of Jupiter could lead to extraordinary discoveries about the formation of the solar system.